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Cheryl Smart Grandmother An Essay

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Worn squares of paper, fingerprint smudges across the top and bottom where the secret inside has been folded over itself again and again. I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no. There’s a memory there – a crush, a flutter in the belly, heartbreak, or nothing to do with affection at all. Memory is flimsy and brittle. Little notes, thousands of them, slotted away in their storage places, wrinkling and yellowing as we do. Our bodies break down; our brains unfold all these notes, downloading the memories to preserve us. Each experience of time and place a sensory journey inside ourselves, so sensory, we feel our remembrances, smell and taste them, hear them crunch under our feet like dry leaves in late autumn. She unfolds another note today, some days her memories as fresh as the clear, rock-lined creek behind her childhood home. Some days the water there is murky, she sifts through silt and sand for memories but muddies them more and more with each panning. She remembers the only doll she ever owned as a child, maybe the only gift her father ever gave. A delicate Chalkware doll made in a 2-part mold from gypsum plaster, the poor man’s porcelain. Chalk dolls were born to die, chipping and breaking easily, their painted-on faces washing away with the slightest bit of moisture. She unfolds the chalk doll note again today, most of the memory erased except the last bit of it. I’m anxious to help her remember. She’s downloading, and we’re running out of time…

Crack the Spine - Issue 139  

Literary Magazine

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