Leather Gloves | Paul Ilechko

Image: Jack B

Leather Gloves

It’s a curious flavor of darkness 
in the woods     the kind you might expect 
to find in the smoky heart of a dying fire 

a car is moving slowly under the arcing
branches of old oaks and hickories     as if
the driver is watching for something

he is quiet     his body seemingly awkward
in its posture    an unusual stiffness
is rippling from his shoulders  

he drank a cup of Lapsang Souchong
before leaving home     and the smoke
from his breath still baffles his eyes

there used to be CDs on the passenger 
seat     even though he never listens to music
he always fills the gas tank once it’s half empty

in his memory     there were passages beneath
his childhood home     where his mother 
used to rendezvous with a man in leather gloves

they always reappeared after an hour or two
always dressed for rain     always running down 
the springs on an imaginary clock

he imagines the man as his passenger     buckled 
tightly in     as they approach a tunnel     on both
sides     the steep walls of his mother’s thighs

he remembers his father sleeping quietly  
on a bare mattress on the kitchen floor 
in the days before their house burned down. 

Paul Ilechko is a Pushcart nominated poet who lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Tampa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Sleet Magazine, and The Inflectionist Review. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.  

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