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Flashback

The little, slightly chubby, nearly cherubic diminutive girl
with the light-blue eyes and the Shirley Temple curls.

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The stately, magnificent, slightly oversized and tall-for-her-time,
squeezable, embraceable old woman with rolls of love
that substituted for huggable, snuggable goose-down pillows.

The lovely figure with deep-blue eyes and salt-and-pepper hair
betraying almost secretly but nevertheless proudly
the occasional blonde lock that spoke of younger,
healthier, perhaps happier days.

The little tyke who each afternoon, in a routine akin to ritual,
crawled upon the woman's lap.

The woman who gently enveloped her with loving arms.

The child engulfed in that tattered, white cloth
that used to serve as a bed cover but,
worn with use, became useless for the bed
but found new life as a protector, a cover
under which was invariably found the warmth
and security so hungrily sought.

The child who used to climb onto the old woman's lap,
this time in the front room, to look out those windows
to gaze at the billowing white clouds which drew
incredible, inscrutable, esoteric pictures across the sky.

What visions, what images, what stories shared only
between the two (and by the occasional, privileged
novitiates who were open and eager to be in on the game)!

The talk of cupcakes, warm and fresh from the oven,
eaten in bed, making crumbs, keeping a secret,
being stealthy, stealing an irreplaceable, unduplicatable
moment, hiding from the parent who would surely
scold for the mess.

The talk of birds that had gone to lunch,
the creatures frequently spied upon
through the back-room window.

The birds who would certainly return soon
but never seemed to, despite the desperate
search in ancient memories.

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The talk of fruit trees that rarely bore fruit,
yet the urgent desire to eat even one,
only one that could hardly come close to the tangy
sweetness that such a one normally suffuses.

The two-handed game of draw poker.

The little girl who always won even if she lost.

The little girl who could beat her big brother and
all his mates with a hand of three aces and
two wild cards. Who needs a five-year-old sister
who can play like that?!

The woman who would without exception allow that child,
almost encouraging her, never denying her, the chance
to cheat in games of solitaire yet somehow taught her
to be an honest player in life.

The lesson learned, oh so many years later when the story
was told of how the woman almost alone though
accompanied by her own small, helpless, hapless
girl-child, became a hero as she stood up for
the beleaguered boy--taunted, harassed, threatened,
beaten by teen boys who thought they had to hate him
merely because he was black.

The lesson that transformed the person who would become. . .

The loving and sharing; the sickness and health; the old
and the new; the spirit and the energy; the woman
and the child.

The love, the loved, and the beloved.
The transfiguration, transmutation, the transubstantiation.

The essence and the quintessence which found immortality.

The girl-woman who waits for reunion.

The child who yet loves and longs for the grandmother of her soul.

Rosemary Jenkins