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The Hug
by Maya Jacyszyn

      felt like handles of a wicker basket

             your shoulders kneaded down into bone lumps.

My fingers grieve the loop of your suspenders

             how they’d wriggle under their stretch

brace for a long sling shot pull,

             a reminder that you too lived your life as a prankster

         all those years ago, swiping cigarette butts from cobblestone

and whistling at nuns from your motorcycle.

             When I was young, you rolled up a tissue and

         placed it in my hands;

I still feel its starchiness as I rub your back.

             We’d dangle it around Nonna’s nose in her lamb-eared sleep,

         the way you flashed your Cheshire teeth as

              she swatted our buzzing fly.

I visited today while you were napping,

              legs warped off the bed in some pipe cleaner craft,

         your skull shedding like cherry blossoms.

We’re two strokes in and

              all I can do is smooth these sheets,

         think to the card games

and how all you heard in church was “cheeses,”

         try to make this bed a bit comfier than the day before.

Maya Jacyszyn is a multi-published poet and the Assistant Director of Neumann University’s Writing Center. She received her bachelor’s degree at Saint Joseph’s University where she also served as Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine titled, Crimson & Gray. More recently, her work is featured in the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, The Ignatian Literary Magazine, Quibble Lit, and Clepsydra Literary and Art Magazine, among others.

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