Now I Have Grown

When I was a child we would walk
through the dusk-warm breezes, down the street;
always parking in the same place,
by the magnolia tree, with its too-sweet smell,
so strong it filled my throat.
And I would bend down,
and pick the petals up, and run my fingers over them,
like feeling something from a place
that the world had forgotten to touch. Back then the evenings
took a magic air, and the sidewalk which we walked was holy ground.
And we would go to the temple, with her heavy
steps, and high and slanting thrones to either side,
where I and other children climbed like lions made of stone.
We would make our way into her embrace,
the temple, with her long windows and high ceilings,
curves and arches meeting like
the harmonies of a song,
her sanctuary just the right size
for a child’s heart.

Now time has passed, and I have grown.
My womanhood I am finding in her sanctuary,
sitting beneath her ceilings, with my cane in my hand.
And the songs we sing sound like lullabies, but my voice is deeper now;
I sing with old women, and I am a woman.
I sing with old women, and I am a child.
I see the people who I knew, but never knew their names.
I look at them and see their backs are bent, their hair is grey.
I sing with old men, and I look at my father.
I sing with old men, and I look at my father.
There are new children now, as children are;
a little girl is jumping in the aisles.
I watch her while she laughs and climbs the stairs,
each step carefully, as I did once.
Each step carefully, as I do now.
I watch the little girl, and smile;
I watch the little girl and see myself.
I watch the little girl, and smile,
and know I am a woman now, because she is a child.

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