Read a Poem
Flat Right Palm
By Brandon Noel
The shadow cast by Bar 154 in Kent was cold as bare iron.
We stood on an uneven brick path as our daughters played
in a kid sized wooden train engine and climbed the white boulders beside it.
I sipped at the bottom of my Tree City espresso,
now just a soaked styrofoam ring of rust water,
but I kept tipping it up so we could stay longer.
You were searching for videos of aerial yoga on your phone.
A new fever brewing in your brain.
I bought you a month's worth of classes,
but lied and said I got them for free.
The power of a gift is increased when it holds hands
with a secret, and I have a lot of both.
"It's warmer in the sun," I said,
and you took us to a bench swing.
I spilled the last of my coffee sitting down,
wiped it up with my flat right palm, and rubbed it
into the faded side of my faux-leather boots.
Our daughters, Raina and Abby, made a new friend
as children do by trading names.
They yelled out to us that their lumber locomotive
was set to leave its station, “All aboard!”
Wooden. Railless. Sliding up the hill.
Early March winds. Runny toddler noses.
Grass stains on white dress stockings.
The unending softness of laughter,
the girls pumped their arms in the air and said “chooo-chooooo.”
I can hear that train’s steam whistle.
There’s a draw on my heart to climb aboard with them,
to jump on the siren line out of the city, to leave
like the spirit does, quietly conjured away by the games
these little ones play. I wonder where they imagine it goes.
I could ask, but I'd just as well blind-buy a ticket,
and let it take me with no return trip in mind.
“Flat Right Palm” by Brandon Noel, from Infinite Halves. Lulu Press. 2017. Used by permission of the author.
Brandon Noel (He/Him), lives in Northeastern Ohio and has worked as a machinist for the
last ten years while writing on his breaks and brief moments of down time. His work often
focuses on working-class life, and has appeared in Door-Is-A-Jar, Jenny, Recenter Press, Empty Mirror,
and The Esthetic Apostle.
He is editor of Olney Magazine
and is a contributing poetry editor for Barren Magazine
. He has two poetry collections, Mongrel
(2015) and Infinite Halves
(2017), and facilitates a monthly writers group called “The Makeshift Poets.” Brandon turned 35 last December and raises two daughters, ages 12 and 6, with their mother. Find Brandon on Twitter: @The_Mongrel
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