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Dorothy Jean (Willow) Schmalle, Bobbie Laumbach, Mary Anne Laumbach, Connie Laumbach, Karen Durham, Lynelle Durham, 1948 or 49

California and Utah, 2009
Photo: Albuquerque, NM, 1948 or 49,
me on far left, Lynelle on far right

My cousin Lynelle was dying,
I heard; remembering when we were children,
her big green eyes, smile sweet,
a bit crooked from a bad delivery,
five years older, so kind
to three-year-old me I thought
she was an angel;
that night I visited her in a dream,
in her hospital room in Utah,
kissed her cheek, told her I loved her;

standing all around, next to the walls,
my mother, Lynelle’s parents,
our grandmother,
Aunt Zulema and Auntie Irene,
all departed years before,
there to welcome, console, help,
I didn’t know which;

later on, Lynelle’s daughter wrote me
that the next day her mother was fading
in and out, but one time
she opened her eyes,
gestured at the empty room,
and told her daughter, as though the time
had come for the highlight of the picnic,
“Get ice cream for everyone!”