The shut-in at nr. 7 Liberty Street

''But what does she do all day in that bare room?'' folks wonder. She sits still, filling her great chair to overflowing. So still in the torn blinds' amber light, the mahogany stain is indistinguishable from her skin.

Like the chair's, Annie's arms are ancient. Voice, eyes, appetite, are young. She relishes the paper plate meals we bring and the least scrap of news. You know from her questions, here's an expert listener. So much alone, to what, to whom? ''I works full time,'' she nodded once. ''I keeps up on things.''

Between the simulated brick front and the curb, children and chickens poke about. Occasionally, one saunters in for a hug or crumb, and out again.

At summer ease in loose white slip, Annie receives whatever comes: Berryville and global trends, her own, her neighbors' piling years. She doesn't stoop under their weight; that stout chair helps, of course.

This woman hugely knows, hugely cares. Annie Holdrich holds up Liberty Street with her huge hope. Her lame screen door flaps wide.

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