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The Oldest Girl

Photo: courtesyJane Zuzalek

Leaning over my sink this morning
to let the juice run down the drain
from the white peach in my hand,
I recalled your stand-up meals
at the sink in the kitchen that we shared.

The rooms of your home were memorable settings:
the living room for the bridge ladies
and for watching the moon rise;
the kitchen for laughing at comic strips and for goodnight hugs;
the television room for your favorite viewing:
the Dodgers, the Lakers, Triple Crown races,
and always the 11 PM news.

Occasionally, while waiting for you to come home at night,
I would gaze through the windows
at the lights along the coast,
fearing the worst when you were later than usual,
and then you would arrive and say,
“The old girl always makes it home.”

Your rooms are being dismantled now,
the photos and paintings removed from the walls,
the cupboards emptied.
Your possessions are being taken away
as was your life one year ago.

I feel your absence at the places we visited together:
beaches and parks for walks,
the Lobero Theatre for jazz and blues,
the Bowl for Bonnie Raitt
and for a Stevie Nicks concert at which
you were kissed on the forehead
by an inebriated man, sitting nearby,
who was charmed by your friendliness
and who seemed unaware that you were probably
the oldest girl in the crowd.

We laughed about that encounter
on the drive back to the hillside house
that you and Eddie, as a young married couple,
had built in 1954; and where you, as a widow,
wanted to live out your life, which you did.

Perhaps another young couple will live there soon,
but during this season, the sounds of Dodgers games
are not audible down the hall,
and memories make the loss of your presence
as fresh as the peach in my hand.

A remembrance of Jane Zuzalek: August 8, 1923 – April 23, 2018

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