In the end, my mother’s shoulders, barely covered and quivering, were like birds. Once, I made a dress for her, the fabric creamy white, the print a single brown tree spanning the width, with stark branches. It was 1974. I was fourteen. Each night, I taught myself to sew, feeding the fabric through the foot, thinking how surprised she would be. I remember seeing her in it, how we’d both loved the gesture, the achievement, and though it fit poorly, the print was enough for us. She wore it once and never again, let me see her walk out the door in it. Maybe love’s architecture is exposed when we try and fail at what we mean. Outside the hospital, winter had flayed everything, the trees charcoaled against the sky, their shadows thumb smudges on the institutional snow hid lawn, and inside the air was redolent of shit, flowers, and chlorine. The first time I changed her clothes, peeling back from her shoulders the blue flecked cotton gown, then sliding a clean pink one up her arms, we held each other in the oily light, spent.