The Oldest Wisdom
Pedro Ponce

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.

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