HEART OF IT ALL: At the 8th Annual Overdose Awareness Rally, Newark, Ohio

A table covered with picture frames and votive candles at an overdose awareness rally.

-after a line by Carl Sandburg

The first year there were only five

photos of loved ones

who had died from an overdose,

framed and set up on a scrawny card table.

Some didn’t want to include their children—

You can’t blame them, Trish, the organizer, tells me.

It’s different now, she says.

People are more likely to be okay with it.

Today there are three tables

stretched long in a corner,

covered in purple and white

tablecloths and framed photos, votives, and keepsakes,

tables overcrowded with moments of sweetness

and joy and light—a guy on a minibike,

a fisherman with his catch,

one woman looking into the camera, another looking away,

a father holding his son, friends together, graduations,

days, smiles, hands, teeth, skin, bone.

Under their wrists, pulses.

Under their ribs, hearts.