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Author: Joan Steffens
Location: Kemp, Texas

diamond icon Joan Steffens is 65 years old and lives in Kemp, Texas. She has been writing poetry, essays, and short stories most of her life, but has only recently started submitting her work for consideration.

The Memory

It rises up before me in the mist,
leprous hands reaching out
to pluck at my sleeve,
grotesque features
running downward
like so much molten wax.

It begs for sustenance,
says it is starving,
says it will work for food.
Filled with horror,
I tear myself free,
turn to walk away.

It follows,
footsteps muted in the fog,
its fetid breath hot
upon my neck.
Repulsed, I turn back,
shout for it to go away.

In desperation,
it stands its ground,
says it is homeless,
says it has nowhere else to go.
I strike out with both hands,
knock it to the ground.

I kick it while it is down,
grind my heel
into its misshapen cheek.
Pitiless, I do not stoop
to wipe away its tears.
As I drift away into the fog

it begins to sink…
down, down into the mire.
The subconscious shudders,
receives it with reluctant arms.
Slowly, it disappears into the murky depths…
unwelcomed, unloved, unsung.

ISSN 1941-0441

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