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Familiar Connections (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: A true story. I met her at a thrift shop on a military base, which has probably been closed for quite a while now. Its book section consisted of a room lined with shelves of volumes, and one stool for anyone to rest upon. Wherever she is at present, I hope her granddaughter and she still spend time together.]

I met an elderly woman at a thrift store

    Surrounded by books in one room

    who declared with rueful nostalgia

    that I was just like her granddaughter

Natural inclination had led me there

     where I had cleared novels from a chair

     for some space to simply relax and read

     when this kindly stranger had sat down instead  

The elderly woman possessed a twinkle in her eyes

      and asked for books from the shelves

      which I passed along without hesitation

      as she spoke of a child in love with literature

A child who cradled books like ceramic dolls

       yet wore down the spines without care

       by repeated openings and closings

       at which her grandmother would laugh

A child who preferred written worlds

       to the kinds visualized on a screen

       because they were never the same

       as what she thought they should be

I listened with wonder to the tales

       then asked the elderly woman

       what had become of her granddaughter

       for whom reading was so intimate

“She is a lovely young woman now,” came the response

       “Busy with her own family and life far away from here

         yet this room is very much like one in my house

         where the two of us would read for hours together.”

There was such a look of reminiscence on her face

          I could only hope her granddaughter understood

          the great strength of the love that would draw

          this kind old soul out to this particular thrift shop

A grandmother for whom the presence of books

           Stirred memories from many years ago

           and proud of the role they had played

           in the life of a child she held so dearly.


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