The Compass

The hand swivels. Inside the ICU, the father dies and the glass face cracks. The mother is not here. She is in the air, curled into a ball in the gut of a metal bird, on the way back, unable to rush–her time is caught in an air pocket. This is not about her. This is about them: the four siblings warm themselves over the remaining fire. They put their hands on his belly, whispering words that console them. I love you, they say into his ear. I forgive you, I am sorry. There is no dramatic pause, the head does not loll to one side. The heartbeat slows but the screen does not say 0, the line does not go flat, the numbers just disappear. Later, they will try and remember how it looked when the breath stopped, the precise moment at which it ended, and they will fail. The line doesn’t exist but the father is gone. The children are lost.


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