“Last hug”,

I joke to my father

at the end

of a protracted goodbye.

“Never

the last one,”

he says into my shoulder.

I memorize

the smell

of his checked shirt,

the tower wall

of his rib cage,

the front door lamp,

its flickering

farewell.

Backing out

of the driveway,

I cruise into a night

thick with awareness

and denial,

accelerate as if

I can hope

to avoid

the last hugs

that will

someday

catch up

with us all.

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