A Parting Shot Now I see them everywhere I go: those ill-matched pairs of women on the way to nowhere special, so their steps are slow. Their hours stretch forever, every day. One’s not so young, the other’s really old. She’s mad and stubborn though she cannot stand without support. All comfort has grown cold, yet she accepts her daughter’s steady hand. They pass in isolated misery, ignored as though transparent to the bone. Afraid of death, but longing to be free, they suffer their proximity alone: the punishment that both of them must bear for giving and receiving thankless care.