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[63] K ey o f H eaven Its clasp is broken, covers frayed, pages missing or loose, warm gold of edges tarnished, dishwater gray. I remember her praying with glass rosary beads the color of honey or beer, never with this book. When she carried it to her first communion, she was fifteen, old enough to pin up her hair, America still a bystander at the Great War. A child has scrawled in pencil on the flyleaf where my mother wrote the year First mass was held in Robinson. John tells me how he found it, clearing out, how he’d opened at random to the verse: Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. And he finds the words again, for me, though he’s the one facing surgery, the ticking aneurysm. For days we’ve tiptoed around death as if it were a colicky baby fast asleep. Take it he says, brooking no refusals, [64] the way our mother would. I cradle the Key of Heaven as if it were a wounded bird, say but it means so much to you, knowing it comforts him to give up what he thinks I want. ...


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MARC Record
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