“Tan Hides and Hard Stuff” by Lisha Nasipak

Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2019: Artist’s Choice


Work Gloves by Justin Hamm

Image: “Work Gloves” by Justin Hamm. “Tan Hides and Hard Stuff” was written by Lisha Nasipak for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2019, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Lisha Nasipak


As in the past, gloves still cut by hand,
One pair at a time, like a tailored suit.
Much like father but he was not as grand.
He was more or less a leathered brute.

Cowhide or tanned hides of quality leather.
The only hides that were tanned were ours.
Hiding under steps all huddled together,
Sitting there for what seemed like hours.

Gloves that guard between bare hand and touch.
Gloved to protect hands against bitter cold.
Father was the cold and he touched too much,
But not a word of that have we ever told.

Although his gloves worn soft and smooth.
Smooth he wasn’t, but harsh and tough.
Like nails to our backside; it was his truth.
And we were trained for the hard stuff.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
February 2019, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Justin Hamm: “When I took the picture of the work glove, a number of possible stories passed though my head. This was not one of them. Reading ‘Tan Hides and Hard Stuff’ changed how I looked at the picture, made me see it in a way that wouldn’t have occurred to me. The poem took personal ownership over the glove; it became less my photograph and more an menacing artifact of the speaker’s trauma. The poet here explores the appearance and purpose of the glove and uses those to communicate what the father is and what he is not by comparison. And all this with formal concision. I admire and am moved by this poem very much.”

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