Vigil and Work Gloves, 2 poems by Ron Stottlemyer


Outside the nurses’ station,
third floor east, twilight spreads
its white canopy over
the busy avenue of bright buildings.
Down the hall, an orderly lofts a pale
sheet over a vacant bed.
In the next room, the ventilator pulses
on, pushing a steady
breeze through the cracked wall
of a failing lung.
In the dim light, the old woman
tethered to a fever
floats under the fluorescent aura
shimmering above her head.
Beneath shuttered eyelids,
night pools. Right up to the edge.

Photo of work gloves and tools
Photo by Fred Wilbur
Work Gloves

Nothing much to look at
lying on the shelf, one on
top of the other, an old man
resting his hands on a cane.
Dried-out yellow cowhide,
lines cut deep int the palms
from stones, weeds pulled.
Fingers crumpled, swollen
like grub worms shoveled
up in planting. An extra pair
of hands helping with lawn
work, flower beds, shrubs,
whatever else comes along.
A grief pulled on to bury
the old cat some kid in a
speeding pickup knocked
out of the street like he’d
kick a can. Or kneeling last
fall to unearth the blooming
rose suddenly plucked by
an ice storm, then shaking
rich compost loose from its
twisted fingers still clenched,
holding on for dear life.

Ron Stottlemyer
Ron Stottlemyer lives in Helena, Mont. A retired professor, his work has appeared in Alabama Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Streetlight Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Twyckenham Notes, Rust and Moth, JuxtaProse, and other journals. He has received a Pushcart Prize for “Falling” (Twyckenham Notes, Summer 2018).

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