The Oldest Wisdom
At the beds of our elders, we gather to hear the oldest wisdom,
dispensed by necessity from a bower of probes and oscillating screens.
They choose their words carefully, lips pressed taut by cannulae,
occasional gestures displacing drip bags in feeble arcs regular as
pendulums. We resist the prognosis. They silence us wordlessly, stares
intent on a posterity looming just behind us. Their instruction
complete, we avert our eyes in prayers of forbearance. The floor tiles
blur in our vision; the hands we clasp are colder than the blankets
heaped between us. Nurses enter to monitor and adjust. Perhaps it is
their serene skill that draws our attention, the dexterity of their
fingers on switches and diagnostic wands. We continue our supplications
while tracing the outline of undergarments beneath worn uniforms, the
slide of rippled abdomens and tailbone tattoos over hastily drawn
waistbands, the relief of nipple and musculature tenting clinical drab
transparent from exertion. Our pious recitation falters as we shift in
pleasurable accommodation. Admonishing eyes chasten us with their
growing vacancy as we weave our fingers tightly, rooted to our seats.
Pedro Ponce's short-short stories have appeared recently in Tin
Parachute Postcard Review, Sleepingfish, and the anthology You Have
Time for This.