She pulls on white stockings,
steps into spongy white shoes.
Except for the crest her uniform
is white. Not cold or harsh, the
color that keeps you at arm’s
length, but a careworn shade
that says here is some one to
comfort you. He pulls on a
white undershirt, covers it
with a blue shirt, his name
over the pocket. The pants
are the same shade, made
of a material impervious to
labor. There is silence.
Not the quiet before a storm,
a quietude, a soundless
conversation about the last
45 years. About children
grown and starting their
own conversations. About
the price of security, and
the cost of faith, the value
of holding on. About how to
forgive, and forget what is
forgiven, the balm of
reconciliation, and the true
purpose of time and healing.
About laughing through it
all, the joy of seeing it
through and what’s behind
the knowing smile. About
how to become satisfied,
sometimes with too much,
sometimes with less. About
how to give space and
when to stay close, finding
a hand where it’s needed
and letting go when it’s time.
About the unprompted
caress, the unexpected
embrace, the perfunctory
kiss and the bond they cement.
About the ritual, the
rhythm of today tonight
today tomorrow today
and the day before.
About staying in step,
stumbling along, about the
waltz of life and the rock of
age.
And when they have finished
dressing there is one last
glance, the perfunctory kiss,
the knowing smile, and the walk
out the door with the life
they have made.

rs