The Treasure


The Treasure

            (for Kathy and Mom)


we know to listen when unforgettable

words are spoken, we know to wrap

both arms around them, hold them

near and tight, so not a one escapes—

a woman, barely cross thirty’s threshold

loses her life to clots from a vaccine

taken to save it, I didn’t know her

but I cried when I heard

            she was my sister who one

year my senior, nonetheless insisted

on ever playing Polonius to my Laertes

only this time, I wasn’t destined for

a far-off country and I didn’t know she

was—my travels limited by a century’s

pandemic, her hospital a few blocks

walk, she paid me the last of our daily

porch visits to share wisdoms gleaned       

from the glad and bereft of loved ones

she had nursed that day

            and I lovingly uncomfortably

planted each word she breathed in fields

of memory about “real riches in the kind

hearts of wounded healers, family once

strangers; in morning joys after weeping

nights; in broken folks who learn

modesty’s peace; in the perfect who

finally find that friend in grace”—

            I bound them close, so I’d

never want even after our conversation

ended, our time spent, even after we

raised pinky promises against the girth

of front-door plexiglass like when we

were girls, even after she slipped away—

way into the underwater blue of after-

day air where her silhouette danced

a distance before morphing

            into a physics of light on a palm-

full of unforgettable words now become

her voice, her presence, her having been

must ever be that helps to keep me whole,

all—felt more than heard, experienced

more than evoked—forging a treasured

bond even a century’s pandemic can

neither limit nor undo even now   



Olga Dugan


Olga Dugan is a Cave Canem poet. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, her award-winning poems are forthcoming or appear in Channel (Ireland), Grand Little Things, Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith, E-Verse Radio, The Windhover, The Sunlight Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Southern Quarterly, Kweli, Ekphrastic Review, Tipton Poetry, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, Origins, Poems from Pandemia – An Anthology, Cave Canem Anthology: XIII, and Red Moon Anthology of Modern English Haiku. Articles on poetry and cultural memory appear in The Journal of African American History, The North Star, and in Emory University's “Meet the Fellows.” 


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