Some days feel like tar paper and brown paste. She walks through the cinder block halls, the rhythm of her own sharp heels on tile (clip, clip; clip, clip) solemnly marking time. A desperate urgency rises and falls throughout the day like a summer breeze.
Back in nursing school she saw a baby slip into existence and unfold itself like a desert flower at sunset, saw a woman’s heart drumming on meat and muscle, the inside of a man’s colon on a screen just above his bare elbow. It looked like a living cave. Everything was so fragile then.
Clip, clip. There’s no time to watch anymore, she thinks, something has been lost. Clip, clip. The world was delicate then. Students come in and out of the room all day, tough-skinned and belligerent. Metal chair legs scrape across the dingy floor. Dark book jackets absorb the light on a back shelf.
The students, heavy-lidded, wear hoods. And in her dreams at night the world is wide awake. She walks marble white pathways thinly covered in water. Soft light pours through high windows in a mahogany paneled classroom. There is a piano in the room and a robin’s egg blue carpet. One tiny student tumbled in among all the rest is a turtle encased in a leather shell. This is the student she must never lose. The mahogany walls shine.
Now in this cinder block room she scans their faces for her turtle student, feeling almost afraid for that one.