He slides the photo across the counter, points
to the smiling, youthful woman with sable
hair and shining eyes.  It’s a portrait
of his wife at age eighteen, he tells me.
Wasn’t she beautiful?
It just makes me so sad.

I’ve heard his political views, his proud
stories of Rockwell International and WWII.
But today, he is handing me his heart.
I would be nothing without Gladys.

His voice breaks; tears surprise us both.
I pat his hand.  He nods, sheathes the photo
in its faded manila envelope and tucks
young Gladys back into his coat pocket.
His shrug is a shameless ache.  He shuffles

to a seat in the waiting room and stares
at his hands.  Is he imagining them smooth
and strong again?  Remembering their fervent
persuasion; long, lustrous hair streaming
through his fingertips?