If a snake had hands, he’d swear his hands were clean. —Wislawa Szymborska To wash our hands is now the saving of the race, and don’t forget the thumbs, says Dr. Gupta on the news, no trace of Pilate’s thumbs down to the silent king, disciples pleading to wash their own hands of the problem, until they’re bleeding. He’s Herod’s race. Put your fingers through the Lava lather of fingers on the other hand, back and front, so yes, check both sides of a thing if you can bear it 20 seconds in the measure of a day, which is to say maybe the unwashed could use a hand not sanitizers, and who has a right to Softsoap, now, from the big refill bottles would be all of us apostles, brothers, unseen sisters, as in my sewer-worker days we’d forgo the elbow-high rubber gloves and dip hands into the open ditch’s flow of feces bumping against our rubber boots with rubbers, spittle, corn, all things a sewer worker could straddle in a ditch to open sanitary lines. We’d unglove it among the close-up pieces of our own humanity. We’d wash hands in it but not of it.
Robert Stewart’s latest book of poems is Working Class (2018, Stephen F. Austin State Univ.); his latest collection of essays is The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (2014, Serving House). For many years, he edited New Letters quarterly, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Guest editor, Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books are The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); A Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her website is http://www.deniselow.net, and her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com .