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Tuesday, February 14, 2023


by Lynda Gene Rymond

I’m carrying a torch—
not on a candy heart,
not on a Hallmark card,
not on a clusterfuck of balloons.
It’s a real torch, spitting sparks,
heading straight for fourth grade
or whenever this monstrosity
took hold on my little life.
Shoeboxes lavishly decorated
with construction paper hearts
in the compulsory pinks and reds,
lavenders and purples.
Our names in paint or glitter
above a gingerly cut slit,
mailboxes for all the valentines
posted in time for the party.
Room mothers brought cupcakes,
soda punch, boxes of crunchy hearts—
I’m yours, too sweet, oooh la la!
(these flame out nicely in candy colors.)
Now the tally. Who got the most? 
Who got the least, again? Who needs to go
to the restroom to flush the crumbs
of a nine-year-old’s self-esteem?
Be your own crush! I’ll shout as
I swagger in with my torch ablaze
(Have you ever watched crepe paper burn?)
Forget this shitshow! (New vocabulary word, 
shitshow!) No more Valentines! 
No more walking around
with your beating hopeful heart
clenched in your fist.
I’m carrying a torch for you, kid,
until you can carry it for yourself.

Lynda Gene Rymond is an author and poet residing in Applebachsville, Pa, where she tends goats, chickens, honeybees and a massive food garden.