Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.

Richard Widerkehr

As We Walk West in Late Afternoon: Ira Speaks

Landscape with Red Cloud by Konrad Mägi

Behind phone wires, cloud wisps like pink-red fingers
seem to drift with us.  They’re fuchsia,
you say.  Last evening on 4-South, we admitted
a frail older woman.  Thelma didn’t know
where she was.  When I told her, she glared
at my plastic I.D. badge. That explains
a lot about you, she said, stubbing one finger
toward my chest.
.                               Under the green EXIT sign
glowing like radium, she proceeded to sit mute
by our locked double doors, blocked the entrance,
refused to go to her room. Four of us cradled her
like a gaunt peahen.  May your souls be forgiven,
she said.
.                As our charge nurse Miss Dee
gave her the injection of Ativan, we held Thelma
gently on her bed. Later, I strummed
the unit guitar, a few chords in the dark.
By our hall table, not far from our bright
nurses’ station, I sang “On Wings Of A Dove”
as she had asked.  Now in the west, red clouds
almost like fringes—on the empty street,
we stop, and they stop, too.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s recent fourth book is Night Journey (Shanti Arts Press), and At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag) came out in 2021. His work has appeared in Open: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L), Writer’s Almanac, and Take A Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles). He won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at University of Michigan, first prize for a short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Landscape with Red Cloud by Konrad Mägi (1878-1925). Oil on canvas. 26.1 x 21.6 inches. 1913. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.