Marion, NC;

Hold My Hand I'll Keep You Safe

By Mckenna Saady

Marion, NC

My hands smell of tomato plants

Their fuzzy stalks staining small fingers

with tangy sweetness.

Soon these fingers will be

Sneaking pinches of biscuit dough

from the mixing bowl

While perched atop long

skinny legs. Then expelled from the kitchen

I decided to explore below.

Vintage dust coats creaking wooden steps

Where I descend to the place

where the oldest memories

Have been laid to rest.

Above are ceramic homages

to Jesus and his friends. Lace things

Professional portraits of each child

At each formative stage. Below is all the rest,

Objects and artifacts

Excluded from the curated collection. A box of wilted

Books deemed unworthy of the display shelves.

Covers all graced by

Muscled men, unbuttoned and lustful

Each one effortlessly clutching

A slender woman with flowing garments and

Abundant cleavage.

Sins beneath

the floorboards of this Godly

home filled with the smell

of good Southern biscuits

and tomato plants.

Hold My Hand I’ll Keep You Safe

Touch, a grace, a brief reprieve.

I felt him like the clothes

On my back, at once ever-present

And nearly undetectable

After the desperate sighs and whispered

Validations and benedictions

As we pressed our agitated bodies together

In fleeting, rosy unification

We sat a long time.

And I thought about how

Otters hold hands as they float

Together. An evolutionary adaptation

To keep them safe

Mckenna Saady (she/her) is a queer writer who grew up in the American South. She writes about the uncomfortable intersections between gender, sexuality, religion, and tradition that exist in Southern culture. Mckenna currently resides in West Philadelphia and works as a staff writer for a nonprofit media organization. You can follow her on Twitter at @wordsbymckenna or on Instagram at @mckennasaady.