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The Hard Way

by Allison Whittenberg

The Hard Way

You never know people

till they die

you gingerly page

through their privacy

Those fresh, fateful photos:

mothers in mauve miniskirts,

fathers frying hash browns, wearing floppy hats

After there is nothing at stake,

you find out all that you could have given

A little air comes in,

combats the forming mold that corrupted keepsakes, contaminated

these attic memories

This knowing threatens to sun the was

the is, now, will be more forgiving


… and, Joan Crawford left her daughter


in her will,

not even

a wire hanger.


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