Old Man’s Hand

The old man’s hand
has skin like tissue paper.
I hold it while he works to breathe.

His fingers are still plump.
I worry I might bruise them,
loosen my grip.

Once a mother held this hand,
new and curling.

Small boy, young man,
threw a ball, drove a car and
drove and drove and drove.

He grabs my hand with his.

Gentle father,
kindly husband,
ordinary man
whose hand I hold.

This hand solved jumbles,
crosswords, jigsaws;
shoveled snow and
served me cake.

He drops my hand,
breathes hard and slow.