Everything I Owned

Rumpled hair, plain face,
blue jeans wrinkled at the knees,
a white paper bag and rainbow heart,
crisp and unstained.

I packed it carefully
so it wouldn’t tear,
guarded it from sharp corners
and coffee cup smears.

Brisk steps and roller-cases
catching flights to bright places,
while my fingers cramped
from paper handles that cut at my hands.

Even knowing the whole story,
I was out of place,
kissing the last face of who I loved.
This ticket across the plains,

back to my Ohio River Valley,
her hills, and filling my cup
with brown river water
to swallow all of my dreams.

Even knowing, I still wondered
how this paper bag became
the guardian of everything I owned,
and how suddenly it had come to this.

Alissa Sammarco
June 1, 2022