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.