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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Melissa Watkins Starr

Summers with Pap

When I was a child, I liked to play on my grandparents' front porch in the summertime. I'd speak into the window fan beside the swing to hear the reverberations of my voice in deeper tones. Sometimes, while my grandfather napped in his chaise lounge a few feet away, I'd creep up to the fan and yell, "Hello, Pap! Can you hear me?" If he half-opened one eye, I'd chatter to him in my fan-enhanced voice. Tiring of that, I'd get the swing up high enough to touch my toes to the ceiling. Pap would tolerate the yelling and wild swinging, but he wouldn't abide squeaking. If the swing squeaked, he'd send me inside for a gob of Crisco to grease the chains. Soon, with peace restored, my little pink flip-flops would be flying over Pap's chair again while he smoked unfiltered Pall Malls. Then I’d watch their glowing tips and ask him to take me to the store to buy candy cigarettes, and off we’d go.

lingering sunset
in the valley, a pond
ablaze with ice