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Green, deep grass of wild growth
laying on my hands
thumbs and fingers inserted
and restrained by the thick plastic
laid aside when the cumbersome job is done
when the heavy lifting is over
when the black graphite and dusty metal powders
settle on the ground, undisturbed by movement
and the gloves are need no more.

thin surgical gloves,
clinging to fingers
the talcum powder sliding for the first few minutes
until sweat sludges inside
manipulating tools and machines covered in oil
dust dirt in a mud.

Hot crimson flaring flames
graphite furnace walls
glaring blinding rays
held with a half-turned head but
firm fingers holding with thick asbestos gloves
Warmth penetrating until even they are discarded
for a fresh pair
fingers still steaming

and forgotten
dirt and oil.
All creep into the crevices of my hands
continued soap and Petrolin
failing to remove their stains
of work which gloves cannot do.

Ezra Ben-Meir,
History: #294  Dec. 1987, revised Aug. 1999

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