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  • He went out into the hedges, smelling of roses and cut grass from June. When he returned, I learned to make him ice tea, not as strong as mine, but always for the three of us (even if he sipped it later over meditation). I would gaze at the gashes up his forearm, a deep burgundy. Without change of expression he would shrug his shoulders and say “rose thorns.” He proceeded to spread sliced tomatoes across the toasted bread Nuna had made him. She fed him simple lunches and he liked knowing that their summers together were guaranteed. He would watch her eat her own portions and sample anyone’s discarded fresh vegetable, dip them in oil and pepper from the table. She always ate more than him; she had the stomach of a 14 yr old boy after swim practice. We were filled with admiration for how much she savored each bite. He would smirk and shake his head, so proud that his wife was the healthiest woman on earth.

    ***

    Two years ago, I imaged her and I, heartbroken, hoping that after a day of sun he would be there. Sitting in the shade, under the overhang, proud of his roses and thirsty for amusement.

    She would make sauce and shut all the doors in the house. All of the children would slowly filter in, complaining of the heat and propping the small screened door open. But no one refused her routine offer of “more sauce?” on any of their dishes. She wanted to keep everyone hot and relaxed.

    Now, she was teaching me to be strong by osmosis. I was grateful that I could hear her small giggles and attentive pauses whenever we’d have our private calls. During those long conversations, her wrinkles would dissolve and her eldest son would appear leaning against a brown kitchen counter, gazing at her youngest girl on an unchartered coast.

    ***

    Dar would always raise his eyebrows at me and gaze with deep blues. My own eyes were a reflection of the ocean like his. And when the tides met, his wisdom was imparted on me.
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