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My Grandmother, her mother, my mother and me

Photo credit: Italo Vardaro. His mother and his daughter.

I imagine them walking down rocky paths

Towards me, and beyond me.

Dark, Italian women carrying water in terracotta pots on their heads.

Graceful and strong.

I know their stories, their secrets, these women I have never met.

I see them when I watch my mother -

strong arms to knead her sacred dough or to sweep a tiny child high

in the air and then to

her chest, tight, to make them squeal.

I saw those women in my grandmother

as she worked in her garden. Coaxing life from barren ground -

sharing the bounty.

Baskets of peppers, eggplant, lettuces, tomatoes.

Bowls of fusilli, meatballs, zeppoli.

"Life is a miracle", she'd say softly to herself.

And so it is, with these women in it.

And now I see them in my daughter,

the boundless energy,

that quick mind,

the hand, open and extended to the world.

I turn now, as my daughter turns,

and see my mother walking towards us

down crooked mountain paths.

Behind her, all those women

dressed in black.

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