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The Gift
Published in Club Plum Literary Magazine

They gave us their bodies, one cell at a time, the curve of their hips and the spaces between their vertebrae; they gave us feet to stand on and pushed us out into the world; they gave us their accents and their love of spice and crawfish; they gave us hand-me-down sweaters with heavy shoulders. They gave us hard smacks and hard hugs, those same arms loving mightily until our skin stung. They gave us their freedom. They gave us grape-flavored cough syrup and ointment that raged in our scrapes; they gave us ice cream, but only on our birthdays. They gave us stories that they read from thumb-worn pages. They gave us second chances, and third.

They gave us our first pocket knives and band-aids to cover our nicks. They gave us stories from the folds of their hearts; they gave us their fears–don’t love like that, stay safe, stay close. They gave us away at our weddings and took us back in when they crumbled; they gave us their dreams but we live them. They gave us that look from deep beneath their eyes, searching our faces for the past. They gave us their withered bodies for safekeeping, brittle and dried like bunches of potpourri. We gave them away to hands that we did not know, who cared without loving. We asked them for their understanding. They gave us their blessing. And we took it. 

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