(This is a work poem. I owned a printing company, and “Make Them Look Alive” is based, somewhat loosely, on a pressroom accident. The artwork is by Judy Kirpich, who created this quilt based on the “H” in the company’s name, at a time when I was selling the company. The broken corner of the “H” looks to me as if it might have been caught in a press.)
All day long the cylinders roll −
sheets of butterflies,
mountains of monarchs and tigertails
Later we lock up slowly,
reluctant to leave
the butterflies behind
The men linger, watch
me walk to my car, protective
The next morning, they
meet me at the door −
The new guy caught his hand in the press.
He’s at the emergency room.
We rush back to the stilled machine.
I touch the terrible smashing cylinder.
A damp envelope is thrust into my hand −
They need this.
Then a mad
dash to the hospital.
In my lap I cradle
the almost weightless fingertips
of someone I barely know.
I fear they will fly out the open window
© Katherine Gekker 1996