Fiction | June 01, 1989

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My Uncle Isaac’s sexuality, according to my father’s theory, had been marked by the half-woman. Isaac, at thirteen, would sneak into the basement of the Philadephia Medical Museum where a woman’s torso floated in formaldehye. It was 1933, and here–beneath the museum’s upper floors with their public exhibits–reasearch and training about venereal disease was taking place. In a reinforced glass case, at the back of a laboratory room filled with charts and diagrams of progressive syphilis, rested the half-woman, clean of infection except for a lesion on her left breast.

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