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  • Writer's pictureShelly Grace

Doris' Rhubarb Juice

I feel sorry for those who have never had rhubarb juice

Who have never seen the angle of their grandmother's elbow pouring in club soda

To have a home made and homemade awaiting your laughter

To be gently nudged to leave all that drags you from present at the door, and to even forget it on your way home

Fresh rhubarb from her garden, grown by her hands

recipe passed down by her friend

Nellie’s rhubarb juice translates into memories and full cups

Sitting still for moments of hydration had with multi-generational gestures

Exclaiming at the hummingbirds on the other side of the window

As we table everything that doesn’t serve soul

I learned stillness in this house

And gentle hands, as everything of value in the house became fragile

When my grandpa’s memory became blurry and I turned into shadows

Imagine the joy of feeling seen by someone without sight

And grandma lost time, years un-had with him

And Nellie became a yesterday instead of decades ago to her

And this summer, I bought rhubarb

And made the juice, and bought the club soda

Elevated elbows

Nellie's rhubarb translated into memories and half-full cups

I wonder why I never made this with grandma

She didn’t show me how to get ready

And this year the house is on sale again,

And I don’t see a bird feeder

So many moments new owners missed out on

But they left her bookcases blue, but our photos aren’t there

And Just a few weeks ago, her younger reflection, who is my mother

Talks about the scattering of my other grandma's ashes

And that happened today without me

Grief held in covid didn’t make room for me

And I went outside

Only to see a bird in the bird bath, she made long ago

imprinted With giant rhubarb leaves

And I know I learned from her how to have words and messages that will outlive me

That even if my memory fades, I will have left behind enough that even empty glasses feel full

So as today translates into goodbyes and goodnights

I know her pouring elbow to be outpouring, reflected into hugs

And now held iPad over video calls

And My cousins and I pass along the recipe amongst each other in her own handwriting

And we sat on a beach this summer

discussing the first sip not made by her

And we all agreed, even though it wasn’t quite the same

That nostalgia sure does taste sweet

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