#192 The Memory Jar by Benjamin Garcia

Sister, you will ask yourself, twelve years from now, the rest
of your life, why, as you slept, your little brother poured
a whole jar of June beetles into the tangled nest of your hair.

Remember the time you sat me pantless on an anthill,
or when you locked me overnight in the chicken coop,
how you tricked me into picking prickly pear barehanded.
Remember it, remember.

The more you pull, the tighter the grip.
Each beetle cleaving six fishhook legs.
Each blessed, shit-eating scarab
hissing and spitting at you like the harlot
you are in a book I’ve not yet read but will.

It won’t be for three days
the last bug leg falls out.
I have ruined your birthday forever.

And you ungrateful shrew, you don’t even bother
to think of the trouble your brother went through for you.
Dark hours in the yard the night before, waiting
by the one porch light, offering my body freely
to the mosquitoes as I hand-selected the choice beetles—
only those whole and larger than a quarter. I treated

each and every scarab with utmost care,
and just before I would place them in the jar,
brought each hissing bug an inch from my lips
and whispered:
she hates you, she hates you.
I must have done that thirty times,
not that I counted, before sealing the jar.

First published in Poet Lore.

Benjamin Garcia, originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico,  recently completed his MFA at Cornell University, where he currently  teaches as a Freund Fellow.  He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, CantoMundo, and the Taos Summer Writer’s  Conference.  His work has appeared in Poet Lore and torhouse.org.


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