That girl’s come again, the one called Jewel. She likes to correct me, says her name is Julie. I know. She’s my youngest granddaughter. That’s what she says. Like the others, she visits, like the others she says goodbye. Jewel comes often enough, I’m starting to expect her, and maybe it’s not just to say goodbye. She asks after my sleep, the food. It’s mud, I tell her. Jewel, who wants to be Julie, looks toward the window. For a change, it’s broken clouds, some blue sky, the snow gone elsewhere today. Nobody has to shovel. You must be glad you have a window. I like to look out. That chair makes it easy to watch the birds. Jewel walks over to the chair, presses a hand against the cushion, waits for it to push back. Very supportive. Go ahead, try it. No, Grandpa, it’s yours. Always like this. Yours. Mine. Theirs. Hard to know what to make of it. I’ll join you in a moment. Go ahead and open the window. Probably not supposed to. Only way to hear the birds. Jewel, who has black curls of hair pulled into a messy bunch, says, I can see them. Magpies? Perhaps. Well, you can’t hear what they are saying. What are they doing? Pecking between the cracks. Always looking for sunflower seeds, crumbs, stupid bugs. There’s one who has no tail. That’s Squirt. He steals whatever anybody leaves out there. Sometimes people don’t even realize they lost something. He took my watch and a ring I used to have on this here finger. Awful snug that ring. Not sure how he got it off. I rub and twist both sides of my finger. You can still see the mark it left. I swing my legs off the bed. Not as easy as it used to be. No faking that. Let me show you.
Connie Wieneke’s prose and poetry most recently has appeared or is forthcoming in Weber, Talking River Review, Split Rock Review, Camas, Stand, and other journals. Her work also has appeared or is forthcoming in anthologies, including The Artists Field Guide to Yellowstone and Orison Anthology. Since 1983 she has lived in Wyoming.