The Sheathing. William Conelly


An angel robed in stainless steel 
loomed piously above his bed. 
It proffered neither rapturous death
nor life eternally supposed.
Its voice was his voice in his pain
—a whinging gasp, an engine noise.
It closed his loins into a sheath
held fast by buried nails, white spikes
redriven through his wasting joints
the moments when he cringed to stand.

The month before his mother’s death,
she’d hobbled from his guest room bed,
and left a single drop of blood
atremble on its metal frame. 
He’d not seen then what wound had bled.
But now he knew how human flesh
must thin, and thin to such a breadth
the stainless touch of heaven cost
it life blood as a toll—and past
pain’s final sheathing leave it dead.

Uncontested Grounds by William Conelly at Amazon

About the contributor

After military service, William Conelly took both Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in English under Edgar Bowers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Unrelated reading and writing work followed, before Conelly returned to academia in 2000. Since then, he’s served in both the US and the UK as an associate professor, tutor and seminar leader in writing and English studies. With dual citizenship, he now resides primarily in the West Midlands town of Warwick. The Able Muse Press published assortment of his verse dating back four decades in 2015; it's titled UNCONTESTED GROUNDS and may be reviewed at their website or via Amazon. Some of his latest work appears in The Pacific Review, The Northampton Review, Nightingale & Sparrow and The Local Train.

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  1. A splendid, painful poem. Mr. Conelly is a master of language and imagery and does not flinch from what maybe disturbing, provocative—in the service of deep understanding. Thanks.

  2. May we all survive this coronavirus COVID-19 and live to write about it and the return of joy in our relief. Be well and thankful.


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