First Taste

The Cassells cellar
earthen-floored
must-scented
raven-aired

Grandma Annie Casssells
and ten-year-old me,
heave worn wooden doors

throw daylight underground
pick our way down brick slab steps
stand still
let our eyes adjust

She leads
Bound for wooden plank shelves
Jammed against the far wall.

She reaches
For a dusty jug
amongst canned pickles, peaches, beans

She pours
a half-pint jelly jar one-quarter full
pronounces “grape juice”

She savors
A long dark liquid sip
“Ahhhhh”

She passes
the almost-empty jar
to me

She cautions
“Just a little now.
It makes you feel all warm inside.”

She stretches
her eager knobby fingers for the rest
as the jar leaves my lips.

—Annis Cassells

Annis Cassells

Annis Cassells

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