“The Last Time I Had to See You” by Victoria Hunter

2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee
2020 Best of the Net Nominee

You sat them on an icy oak table–
the package of my father’s ashes–
like an old-fashioned box cake.

Your dusty, branch-colored fingers
gripped a pile of pearly white paper sheets
with the profiles of people you were to keep
until their relatives were ready
to let God keep them or send them
to the next place they should be.

Then I swore I could see my father’s ashes
throbbing through the box.
I thought he preferred
to be with drunks than with me.
I never got one call from him on a holiday.
I never got to know the strength
of his heart’s soul in a close embrace.

Why should I care about his ashes?

I remember the room space, an opened box
in the evening in a basement.
I remember I sat, stiff as new chopsticks.
My heart was cake, sunken in the center.
My eyes were acorns in a puddle.
Suddenly you said, “You can come back
for them another time if you like,”
and then drew on one of the sheets
the cost for holding remains of
a poor black man you do not know.



Victoria Hunter was born in Pennsylvania. She enjoys reading, gardening, singing, traveling, and looking at art. She was a distinguished writer for the Waco Cultural Arts Festival. Her poem, “The Woman You Never Tell Anyone You Know,” was on the shortlist for the Poetry Kit Online 2018 Summer Poetry Contest. She has two poems in the November 2019 issue of The Writers Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Wordfest Anthology, Bluehole Magazine, Crimson Feet, and others.

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