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By Gloria Bares

Maybe it was my grandfather Poppie’s voice
as he read stories aloud,
sparking words to life,
his face lined and shadowed, revealing his feelings.
I held my breath,
spellbound,
disappearing into the words of the story.

Or when we’d read Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” together.
The rhythm of our voices
tapped my inner drum,
quickened my pulse.

It could have been the year Poppie and I read together
The Gettysburg Address—272 words.
He read slowly, picking up the pace, then slowing down,
each word pronounced, polished like a precious gem,
revealing the firm fervor of Lincoln’s language.
I felt a sting of reality in my chest,
a shudder of suffering,
a blear of sorrow.

It could have been assigning me a monthly classic poem
to memorize and recite,
like Joyce Kilmer ’s “Trees.”
The poet’s words awoke new mind pictures,
spoken aloud, their meanings weighed more.
My imagination stirred.

Pride gleamed in Poppie’s eyes looking directly into mine.
What words did you like, he’d query. Why?
He listened to my thoughts.

Two generations later
when I recite my poetry,
I hear, alive in me,
my grandfather’s long life-love of words.
I feel my Poppie’s eyes smiling proudly.

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I am Gloria Bares. My poem, Long Life-Love of Words, is a memoir of times with my maternal grandfather. He was an attorney who believed in the power and energy of words. He believed in schooling — providing college educations for both his daughters, my mother and aunt — which was unusual at that time. He encouraged me to finish classes to become a teacher. I taught school for 29 years. Since I retired, writing has become my passion. In my own voice, I have recorded 13 of my poems on a disk titled, Gloria Bares — A Bionic Woman. I have new memoir poems for a book I wish to self-publish as a legacy for my family. I can be reached at globares@icloud.com.