Beatriz Dujovne

Nana’s Teachings

 You initiated me in the alchemy of laundering
 during my breaks from hopscotch on our Spanish patio tiles.
 I learned how best to remove stains while you, bent over
 the oversized granite sink, told me about suds and how to break them.
 Then you performed the intricate ceremony of unwrapping 
 those brilliant blue softener cubes, enticing as bonbons in shop windows.
 For the grand finale, you hung my dresses and dirtied sheets
 to dry and dance with the winds. I was too small to help you. 
                              Too delighted by the smallest things.
 The green light in your eyes empowering me to tiptoe inside 
 the wiry chicken house and collect newly laid eggs. 
 I cradled the bounty safely between cupped little hands.
 My cheeks burned with self-admiration, triumph. 
 Yolks extracted, beaten. Alcohol and sugar. Vermouth. 
 Your next alchemy: a sweet orange foamy concoction
               you let me sip, so slowly, as I would a latte today.
 A discarded bookcase converted into a garden. Offerings: 
 balled-up roly polies, dirtied fingernails, divine strawberries grown overnight
                that you let me pick. Such pride. Grown-upness.
 I was the caretaker of those fragrant plants
 you called sweet basil, thyme, rosemary. 
 Under your vigilant eye, I learned to curb 
 my temptation to touch those forbidden
 miniature green hot peppers that turned fiery red
 in the spring. They grew upside down 
 like candles on Christmas trees. So silky in my hands,
                like the last time I touched your cheek. 

Beatriz Dujovne is a licensed psychologist with a private psychotherapy practice. She is the author of In Strangers’ Arms: The Magic of the Tango (McFarland, 2011) and Don’t Be Sad After I’m Gone (McFarland, 2020) and has published numerous articles and poems in peer-reviewed and literary journals. 

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