Hoarding Any Memory
Come give me a smooch! – Richard Lingro, Sr.
You appear in a family picnic clip
fifty pounds heavier than I remember
and bearded. Come give me a smooch!
that scruffy kiss and heavy hug.
Lawn mower tractor pulls, greasy rags,
and polka music play, profound
around the fuzzy photos, figures distorted,
shorter, thinner, younger years away,
driving in a silver Grand Marquis. I hear
oldies music, feel stale, air-conditioned cold
pumped into the back of an old police car,
the grey upholstered seat where I sit
with permanently locked doors,
windows I can’t roll down.
We are visiting great-grandmother
at her grave where your dust will rest
next to your mother. What felt like hours
is only thirty minutes – did you know
we were so close? We planted flowers,
or maybe we poked a plastic wreath
above her headstone, or maybe
there was no leaving behind,
only standing, staring, shifting feet.
My husband yells at our daughter
and I’m embarrassed to have thought of you.
But mostly, I keep sitting by your bed, alone,
caressing your head, whispering prayers,
holding your hand as you breathe in,
and breathe out, and breathe in…
and I breathe in, and in, and in, breathe…
and then I’ve breathed you out,
an immense whoosh like the smooch goodbye
after the car door is opened, windows down,
off to the great lawn mower tractor pull in the sky.