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Thin skin, the color of English
tea, stretches over protruding
knuckles, his bones and veins straining
against the flesh. Blue, age-infested
polka dots canvas his wrist, sprinkling
up his arms like a connect-the-dot game
before disappearing beneath the plaid
blue t-shirt. Calloused fingertips
scuff the hardwood table.
"Hit me."

In the corner of the room, a pair
of glazed cerulean eyes
stare vacantly out of a window
clouded with spots and smears
left from a janitor neglecting
his work. Adjacent sits a perfect
half-circle of elders in wheelchairs,
staring just as absently at the T.V.
The on-duty nurse lazily flips the wilting
pages of the 10-year-old Vogue.

A stained yellow nail scrapes
the overturned card. James' soil-colored
eyes shift down as he leans forward
from his bronze crusted wheelchair.
Bifocals fall onto the bridge of his nose,
allowing his eyes to identify
a turned over two of hearts.
"Hit me."

The white-haired dealer flips over
another card. Six of diamonds dances
with a four of spades, nine of clubs, two
of hearts. Soil eyes shift to milk
chocolate, and paper-white teeth
appear behind thin, rusty lips.
"Blackjack."

A grandmother sits in a chair
near the window, her arms outstretched
as an eight-year-old sandy haired
boy flings himself at her, kissing
her right cheek and clutching
the back of her neck. He quickly
begins talking, oblivious
to the nurses bringing in the dinner carts.

James' raspy voice skips through the air
of the bare, white room, hop-scotching
with the aroma of undercooked
mashed potatoes as he whimsically
collects his red and blue chips.



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