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The Glass
by Peggy Barnett

In the back of my kitchen cabinet
there's an old candle glass holding
sixty years of memories.

My mother went to the temple to pray for the dead.
She never went for any other reason.
She only went to pray for the dead.
She didn't go for any joyous holidays.
She only went to pray for the dead
coming home with Grandma dressed in black.
her eyes red, puffy.
She never went to festivals
or to light candles on the Sabbath.

The only candles she lit were the Yahrzeit candles
in the glass with the arches pressed into a pattern
around the side.
At various times of the year,
two or three lights flickered and glowed in the kitchen
an altar to deathdays set up on a glass tray
on the thickly painted white wooden counter
over the drawer of old mismatched silver.
Orange flames glowed on five-year-old cheeks
staring at the glasses at night
scaring me with the shadows of dead people
moving and swaying on the kitchen ceiling
and walls behind me
reaching for me from some horrendous dark past

After the wax had been burned away
we used the glasses to drink
Hines Black Cherry Soda
a little something sweet
to have after death.

From the poetry book On Your Left by Peggy Barnett ~ Clear Bear Publishing Portland, OR  

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