Nursing Home Moment

His mother sleeps deeply, dying in a nursing-home bed. Her sunken eyes are shut in her flower-fragile face, framed with soft gray curls, adorned by a pink satin pillowcase. The baby doll she’s lately fostered lies tucked in beside her, under a blanket trimmed with lace crochet.

His sister sits beside his mother, leading her own sparkly grandchildren in a Sunday School hymn-sing, and his nephew’s wife kneels on the floor changing her daughter’s diaper.

He stands in the doorway, arms folded over chest, casually roasting the President in small talk with his brother-in-law.

Behind him in the hallway, young Sudanese immigrants wheel the shriveled children of Scandinavian immigrants to and from their rooms, their meals, the bath, the toilet.

Outside the building, breezes blow, sun warms soil, trees shiver their leaves, and cars loaded with people he will never know speed by on the busy freeway.

On the other side of the earth, it is dark. People and animals are sleeping in houses, huts, nests, and holes under the moon and the stars. Mothers are nursing babies, and elder daughters are changing the soiled clothes of grandfathers.

Out past the atmosphere planets are turning like lonely wolves, dark matter hangs like a disremembered dream, suns are dying and others being born.

So he talks, and stands, for a hard long while.

We wear our grief like fingerprints, and our tears – however, whenever, if ever they fall, are shaped like snowflakes.