Love is one form of salvation. Louisville’s unsung master of the short narrative poem guides us through a scene showing just that.

He watches his wife get out of the shower
gingerly, one hand on the towel rack,
one foot cautious on the bath rug,
minding her center of gravity.
She finally emerges with the second foot,
a featherless stork with wrinkled skin
and a soaked, stringy mane of hair.

They married forty years ago, honeymooned
at his friend’s fishing camp, watched stars
creep across the night like felons.
They fell into cohabitation like
it was a custom already learned.
There were nine arguments, total.
None of them were about money.

Now he sees his dripping lover
and wishes he were still young,
strong enough to lift her up
off the tile and hold her high as
any ceiling, as something to show
God, time, and the spinning world
the beauty he has known. 

Author Profile

Robert L. Penick’s The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems  appeared with Hohm Press in October 2023. His poetry and prose have appeared in well over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American ReviewPlainsongs, and Oxford Magazine. His latest chapbook is Exit, Stage Left, by Slipstream Press. 

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