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How Caffeinated Days Began
by Marianne Szlyk

These days began for me
in Grandma's kitchen
with a spoonful of hot coffee
in a pale blue cup
of whole milk and sugar
on a summer morning of pancakes.
The sun came in
over the cacti on the sill
the way butter and syrup spilled
over homemade blueberry pancakes.
Aunt Jemima didn't work here
in the house next to the lilac bush.

I never asked Grandma
if my mother began her days
the same way, with one cup
before she dashed
under the tracks and uphill
to school. I knew Mom
drank her coffee black,
even at McDonald's
with her single hamburger
and one or two fries.
I knew Grandma did not.

But we had a lot to do that day,
washing and then hanging
the laundry or
getting our hair cut
at the Beautyrama,
picking a few things
up at the Minit Mart,
keeping up with the soap operas,
all without a bus or a car
in the little city
made bigger without them.

It was well that
caffeinated days
began early.


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