Precious Tableau

Four elderly women sit stiffly around a makeshift card table. An automatic battery operated card shuffler hums as it sorts multiple decks. The latest hand is completed and it’s time for a break. 

Bruce Springsteen sings overhead. 

One octogenarian, kyphotic, wearing glasses tethered by a gold chain, gold hoop earrings dangling, shuffles slowly toward the coffee bar. She comes back with an iced coffee and a cookie as big as her hand. 

One is checking her messages on her iPhone. The dings and dongs and pings are familiar to any pre-teen. 

One is “rushing” to a bathroom break behind a festooned aluminum walker, multi-flowered purse dangling. I think she’ll make it. She does. 

The fourth, the youngest of the group, stays behind just long enough to deal the next hand, update the scoring notebook, and organize the drawing and discard piles in their clear plastic holder at the center of the table. 

They chatter about grandchildren, the latest meal out at the restaurant down the sidewalk. The eat, they drink. They talk. They cough and hack. They sit silently, obviously enjoying each other’s company. 

They’ll return to the card table shortly to play the next hand. 

Gary Wright sings “My Love is Alive”. 

The world spins on, just as it should.