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24 the minnesota review Leroy V. Quintana Grandmother, how quickly the days pass Grandmother, how quickly the days pass, how quickly Today, in the monotony of day to day, I realized how long it's been since I stopped to think of you Such is the fate of women, of grandmothers, I suppose They tell you the old cuentos, comb your hair, make tortillas, cook your favorite frijoles with hamhock, smile softly, call you "mi'jito" and heal you, old herbs, remedios people here would laugh at They protect you from the harsh demands of grandfathers who they think want you to be a man long before you are ready They make candy on old firewood stoves, tell you more stories of their youth, your history They give you old arrowheads they found in the hills long ago and they bathe you, forgive you not only after they send you down the hill to the old Arab's store for tacks to repair the linoleum and you fling half the box away causing flats all over the neighborhood, but always They send you to school, teach you your prayers, tend small gardens, grow flowers whose names existed only in Spanish, flowers whose petals you pluck wondering if the freckled girl down the hill loves you, loves you not, loves you, loves you All your summers are filled with butterflies And they cry when you leave which is often The days pass, years, grandmothers become ill; they die Still, it is grandfathers we remember best The men of my family were born to sweat under the sun, to swing hammers, pound on anvils, shovel coal, crack whips on the backs of oxen, swear by the devil; a world of horses, men who shear sheep, fight and die in wars Our women are meant to stay home, have children Their place is in the kitchen I am of course the men of home and they are me But I am also the one who left and returned time and again left more often than returned Quintana 25 The one who as a child was enchanted by words Now it seems they haunt me; a thousand lives I miss your old stories grandmother I have a deep and desperate need to tell mine Perhaps that's all I have of home And all home will have of me Grandmother how the days pass; How quickly the days pass. And the road between here and home seems longer with each passing, weary year Longer with each passing weary year If I am not careful, and I am not a careful man, soon and that seems very, I too will be a stranger there ...


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