He gently pats her hand,
sensitively, he imagines.
Is she cold? he wonders, and
shrugs off his heavy jacket,
tucks it carefully about her slender frame.
She is tense.
What can he do? he asks.
She hasn't answered,
but already he is on his feet behind her,
kneading knuckles into neck and shoulders.
She can't tell him -
the agony of weathered skin on blistered flesh
has closed her throat -
a survival mechanism, she imagines.
Even the feather-light brush of
accidental contact is painful, but this -
this incessant squeezing and pressing and crushing -
it may kill her yet.
But oh! he means well.
Later she'll say that it's not his fault:
he wasn't flying the plane when it crashed
and left her like this.
He couldn't see; she wouldn't speak.
Even so, he can't help asking:
Did I not feel her skin slough away beneath my fingers?