The Ugly Sweatshirt | Megan Savage

We divvy up the shirts while your body is still there in the room. The hospice worker helps us. We need to know what you should wear when your body is sent away to the place where bodies go.

I don’t want the shirt with the whimsical toaster, the cartoon iron burn. I reject the clothes you wore before the tumor and after, the jokes we saw you make when you were bearing up. I want the shirt I haven’t seen, the bright blue sweatshirt in the back of the closet with ugly birds on the front. It looks like it came from a catalogue that sells sausage and smoked cheese.

You must have thrifted the sweatshirt ironically. A mating pair of cardinals. A smear of snow on pine needles and pine cones like small grenades. Two letter x’s on top of each other, crossed crosses, the star of Bethlehem from the hand of a child. More snow as small white dots. And a window frame, suggesting the viewer looks out at this wintry scene from a cottage in the woods.

Or maybe you were sincere, softened by the birds’ cheerful demeanor. Their knowing expressions insist spring will be arriving soon. I want the ugly sweatshirt like I want the false hope. I will slip inside it and settle in. Like it was made for me. Sewn to my skin.

Megan Savage is a multi-genre writer living in Portland, Oregon and teaching at Portland Community College. Her work is currently featured in Plainsongs and as the first audio fiction on the More Devotedly podcast; past writing has appeared in journals such as Spork, Subtropics, Barn Owl Review, and Blunderbuss, and has been twice nominated for Best New American Voices.

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