My daughter asked me yesterday why some people have two houses and others have none at all.

She said maybe the people with two houses should give one of theirs to the people with none

And I told her it was a wonderful idea.


She thought for a minute, her head cocked slightly so that one braid fell into her face.

Then she plunged her hand into the bag of Cheerios and asked if people also sometimes didn’t have enough food

I said yes, bending down to pick up the cereal that had fallen.

She said we should give some of ours away.

I said we try to.

She said we should do more.

It’s not that simple, I said.

She asked why.

It just isn’t.


But I couldn’t think of a reason why, so I smiled down at her,

And it made me think of my grandmother, the one from the Bronx,

Who lived much longer than we all thought she would.


What I remember most about her was her tremor,

The way her hand would start to shake,

Out of the blue

As if a cold front had blown in and it needed to move to stay warm.

The tremor made it hard for her to eat, 

So I would sit by her and put a finger up to her hand, and touch it.

One finger was all it took for the tremor to stop

And for her hand to be still.

I sat, every night at dinnertime, with one finger to her hand

Thinking how amazing that was,

That just one finger

Could fix all the brokenness in our world.


You’re right, I said to my daughter as we climbed the subway steps up to the exit.

It is that simple.

That’s what I thought, she said, and took my hand again.

The light shone down on us as we climbed up to the surface together.