I hugged a stocker at the Millhopper Publix
standing next to the Woolite.
Smelling like fresh-cut lemons,
eyes big O's in a scrawny face,
he hugged me back fierce, the way
you would a stray dog.
A near hug, the young blond
in the office, his left foot in a cast,
eyes that made me blink, pointed
his crutch toward the storage room.
"Follow me," he said, and turning,
lost his balance.
My friend pulled on the shawl
I knitted her for Christmas,
fluffy wool of varied blue hues.
It took wing when we hugged,
enfolded us -- I kissed her
lips, soft as cygnet down.
Six foot two, my brother grows over
me by four years and seven inches.
He hugged me at the 43rd St. Deli,
my head skimming his skinny shoulder,
hanging onto his "Love you, Sis"
embrace until his dimples showed.
Saturday, my son called,
his voice a hug. Forty years ago
he walked alone to preschool,
face held up for air, a swimmer
sinking, holding back
the words, "I'm not afraid."