"Mother," he said, "will I ever be able to taste the difference between rye bread and a wry expression?"

"Connect the dots," I said, "to something less reliable like what you see."

"But the mirror never responds to my questions either." He turned his fragile head toward the wall, feeling for his sandwich under the tangle of blanketry. "It troubles me deeply that I can look at something other than myself."

"The rain is falling," I said.

He took a bite and savored the texture of ripe banana.