I Remember

My mother carries me to the cabin kitchen,

Where my grandmother waits,

Her apron cinched, her sturdy arms welcoming, her smile firm and determined.

Where I become the main event, the centerpiece of their day.

My little red bathing suit—a miniature Marilyn Monroe,

Full of sand, and grit, and a day’s worth of four-year-old play—

Is gently peeled from my exhausted body,

And shaking and shivering and whimpering

I am submerged in an old galvanized tub full of warm water.

I remember

Their calm reassurances

And the gentle hands touching me, pouring warm water over my tiny frame.

I remember

The light of those women—my women—in that tiny kitchen.

My grandmother—the jam maker, the warbly whistler, the grandchildren snuggler

My mother—the schedule arranger, the ache soother, my eternal encourager

Feeders of the world.

The wood cook stove snaps behind me

And I am lifted and wrapped in the clean towel,

Quickly cocooned in the safety and balm of my grandmother’s ample bosom.

I don’t remember


My mother’s youth, her beautiful smile, or how she was—briefly—mine alone

Or my grandmother’s predictably musky scent of onions and rising bread.

All gone to me.

The tub still hangs on the porch of the cabin.

The wood stove now a vintage accent in a cousin’s home.

The rest of the tiny kitchen is unchanged, a museum vignette dedicated to early cabin décor.

And above all, I remember


The radiance of their love,

And how at that moment, I was the cherished center of their universe.

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