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Ora et Labora

by Arthur Brown

I passed him gardening in his yard by light
from an electric cord. Ahead a man
came from the dark of what seemed more than night —
of alcohol: a darkness that began
some time ago, by the dark look of him,
the slant and stagger of his form, a face
that seemed an amputated limb,
and the dripping torture of his slow bent pace.
And yet the gardener made no sign of hearing,
kneeling in his pool of light, the nearing
stranger; did not look up from his labor —
recognizing that slow shuffling sound
and not the fear in which I’d turned around
and made a murderous drunkard of his neighbor.

Arthur Brown has published poems in Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, AGNI, Southwest Review, and other journals. His poems have won the Morton Marr Poetry Prize, the American Literary Review Poetry Prize, and the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival Sonnet Writing Competition. His book of poems, The Mackerel at St. Ives, was published by David Robert Books in 2008.

Pat Jones
Published 29 March 2011