A dense curtain of concern appears on my  pleated brow,

In folds, lines and creases.

“Are you okay?”

“Why, what happened?” You ask.

Your voice ringing like an out of tune xylophone.

You look down at your feet. Study each of your wrists,

Two times over.

The hands on your watch oscillating without a sound.

You brush your bony fingers against your left cheek, swallow loud enough that it almost echoes

And flit off into a time long gone.

Telling and retelling stories of the gentle heart of your father and the lingering lashes of your mother. 

Limbo unattended.

Attention shifts. From third gear down to first.

I peer across the table, at a weakening frame. 

“Are you okay?”

“Slowly, slowly. Getting there.”

You reach for your tepid glass of water, that ripples at your touch,

With the same hands that motioned shifts and coddled all four of my fathers. 

Except now they shake, riddled with the looming anxiety of thinning independence.

You blink, time stops. 

At the upward flutter of your eyelash, time starts again.

I direct the attention within. Scrambling at the weeds of solace in a lake of emotion as murky as this.

“Are you okay?”

The shadow of self answers:

“Life is fragile. We know this, We’ve always known this. But to see it recline, no, to feel it recede, carries the unease of breathing through tarry lungs.” 

I then chime in, sharply cutting off the truth, with the gentlest of blades and a heart swelling with fear:

“All good. I’m all good.”