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The stranger is back. This time the stranger has brought you a burlap bag. All the summers of your life are in it. Open it. Dump the contents on the ground. Describe. This can be some sandals or this can be a school bus or this can be the Pacific Ocean. (It’s a magical burlap bag.) Before you begin your ten-minute freewrite, take about 30 seconds to jot down at least 6 things (or up to 10 if you like) that you’ll be surprised to see again, from all the summers of your life, in that bag. Feel free to be negative if you like. My bag would have, for instance, a housefire in it. And some crutches. But also a bunch of popsicles. 


Summer dumps itself
all over the floor again.
Burlap bag full of memory.
The three days
every summer at the lake. The hotel
room sink filled
with ice
filled with bottles.
My uncle.
I wish you could’ve met him.
A man in every direction at the same time.
Hawaiian shirt, some shame. His
wife, my aunt. I’ve
scraped my fingernails all over the bottom
of this bag, and all
I can find are my own broken fingernails.
The sound of rocks being shaken in
the collection plate at church: that’s
the ice machine.We’ve been
here before. We’ll never
be back here again. Or, if
we are, we’ll be different.
My mom, alive, points out
a dead seagull before she
goes into the air-conditioned room, lies
down on the hard mattress for a long time.
It’s all over, whether
I liked it at the time or not. Look
at anyone of these snapshot
before you thrown them away:
Not one of us was spared.
Except you. You’re
all there is some days, dumped out, in
chunks and threads and the scent of
chlorine in your hair, coating
your teeth. Jane
Austen said something (I think) a bit
like this:
Remember the past only
as it gives you
to do so.

Summer memories of striving to belong are best forgotten now
By Renée Szostek

A stranger brought a
burlap bag bulging with six
blue blouses I bought
for my internship. Success
in dress still did not impress.

Pennsylvania Pastoral

We were so white –
Everything was white –
Everywhere I went –

Black lives were the women in my grandmothers’ kitchens.
Civil rights was what you watched on TV.
Diversity was the one Amish boy in seventh grade, my Mennonite boyfriend, the lone ear of yellow corn they mixed in with the rest.

A Lifetime of Summers Belched Through a Patchy Carpet Bag
By Logan Corey

A pair of roller skates
Medical-grade adhesive
A fistful of stray cats
The smoggy after smell of fireworks on the beach
Thick rubber heat on parade float tires
Gritty damp stain of wooded bogs
Pink skin before a scar
Rolls upon rolls of undeveloped film