Revision of Hoarding Any Memory

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.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). My memoir, American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation, and the second volume of devotionals, The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others, will be released in 2022. Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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