A nurse in white clogs hurried along the corridor. She had to give the boy with the cuckoo clock heart a sedative. His family stood around the bed like awkward strangers. The doctor, a smoked-down cigarette between his fingers, had excused himself. He had been trained to observe the observable. The dusk was all old doors and blank windows, a memorial to lost sailors.
The crowded elevator disappeared between floors. Pedestrians stood weeping at the crosswalk. She still loves you, said the old man walking a dog on a rope. I smelled the salt of the nearby tears. It took two or three matches before the light would stay lit.
The light doesn’t last all that long, of course, but as long as it lasts, we become like souls with red-painted toenails, the fallen factory chimneys along the Merrimack, dancing peasants scantily clad amid the snow of a Russian prison camp.