Amber replicas of their former selves,

old enough to be wearing Depends,

this octogenarian couple remind me:

We all fall apart in the end.

A widow and widower, wheelchair bound

meet in my brother’s Petaluma garden.

Divorced amicably years ago,

they’re waiting for the elixir

of generations of offspring

flying in from all over the country

to celebrate the lives of their elders

who now face the inconceivable silence

that lies ahead.

Their stiff fingers and tremulous hands

need my help to open pounds of pistachios

I brought for them, even though,

the orthodonture hands of my brother

once created thousands of smiling faces.

His tongue gets strangled trying to speak

and she can hardly hear, but they understand

each other, the way folks did before they had words.

There’s pleasure in their eyes, resting easy

under the totemic weight of a life-long bond.

A veil of sadness hangs over the garden,

but they seem impervious to gloom.

Even though their bodies may be leaving them,

their souls still glow.

They murmur about having led a good life;

a life with no regrets. They agree on the scent

of the Meyer lemons and the beauty

of petals drifting down from the plum tree

like the tears I suppress by quaffing one beer

after another like a chain-smoker,

until not one bottle remains.