Dollops of yellow cream shed pallid light
Time is graying. Sixty pages, creased and faded.
I twist my nose sourly and you glare at me.
It always smells like carpet shampoo here.
The couch is clad in plastic. I sit, septic.
You pace the empty room, tobacco smoke fading.
We scrawl our dreary names for the mistress in blue.
My feet drag, but you don't notice. You never notice.
The hallway is an endless cipher. Vacant.
Capsules of life, left and right. Leaking.
Bleak mortality laps at our feet. Flooding.
Remember how we used to collect seashells?
We find her in the lunch room. Alone with her food.
She is ancient and meager. Her smile is robust.
You plead with her to eat. She shakes her head no.
I sit, impotent. Fashioning a lifetime's regret.
I make the same empty promise every time we leave.
Next time it'll be different. I'll finally know how
to tear myself open and leave something for her
An ear for one last story, whispered through a seashell.