An Old Couple
J. B. Mulligan

Each night after dinner, they come out onto the porch, and sit on an old, unpainted bench.

In the trees around the house, birds and insects rush about, and the voices of children playing one block over often carry to them, faintly but firmly, like aged memories, the intensity of which is much sharper than the recalled details.

They sit in silence as snug and warm as a familiar blanket, and the past rushes over them, water over the falls; the spray hovers in air all around them, the roar is so constant it is almost ignored.

They watch the moon rise behind the trees, and know what time of year it is, not from a calendar or newspaper date, but from the patterns of moonlight on limbs and leaves, the various shapes carved out of the light by branch and leaf, a kind of living, ever-shifting scrimshaw. They have memorized the moon, the trees and the sequence.

When the moon clears the trees, they go inside.

First published: February, 2002