Opal Jewelry and Beckoning Bread For Nana She was old, at least As if that won’t be us tomorrow. As if life continues on forever and doesn’t snap shut— a screen door while you’re still on the threshold. She wasn’t in her right mind As if the times she watered tulips or mixed up paint in Styrofoam bowls weren’t consequential, didn’t carry over with her into days emptying out on yellowed linoleum. She’s at Home now As if I’m not remembering how I always felt peaceful around her, the self-contained pool— timidly gathering brown eggs beside her calm body. As if I can just continue to go on without her saying my name or giving me orange sherbet. Did everybody decide to just forget about her oval watch or that exquisite gap in her teeth or especially those navy blue sneakers? How can they calmly say she’s not suffering anymore when she will no longer print off the list of family birthdays and tape it to the side of the fridge? And now everyone will share stories of their special bonds and it won’t matter that my birthday is one day before hers because she would bake loaves for anyone who was hungry. 4 cups warm water, 2 packets of yeast, ½ cup of honey, ¼ cup of shortening,13 cups of flour, 4 tsp of salt, proofed, rested, covered with a warm cloth, baked until gold brown and thumping-hollow. She would grease her hands and knead sweetened-dough for all empty bellies, waiting each time for the second rise, and it would do us well to remember that. Maybe I’m panicking because people continue to have babies and the replacements become more important than the originals. I don’t understand how it’s decided when we stop caring. So what if those last days she was unreachable in her inner world and ate only chocolate for dinner? I dare to insist her pink Velcro slippers matter. Let her benediction be golden rod in early evening and a cherry Jollyrancher at the bottom of a purse. And a Sunday full of humming.
Lydia Renfro holds an MFA from Adelphi University and is the recipient of the Donald Everett Axinn Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared in Litro U.S., Siblini Journal, The Blue Nib, Witches Mag, Miletus International Literature Magazine, The Merrimack Review, Isacoustic*, and others. She currently lives in Colorado, and is completing her first novel manuscript.