Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Upon Leaving the Branch" by Debbie Okun Hill

Upon Leaving the Branch" recently won third place in the individual poem category of the 2010 Writers' Federation of New Brunswick Literary Competition...

He enters the Royal Bank
without a pinstriped
“I’m in charge” suit
shoulders drooping
like tired spruce limbs
his scuffed work boots
shuffling against
white tiled floor
crimson sap blood
congealing near his ear

She does not notice at first
this rag doll man
standing in line
hands “without coins”
in cargo pant pockets
no shaking knees or leaves,
no pine needle marks on arms
just a gentle weeping inside
like dying wind breath
against willow limbs
imprisoned in a dark forest jar

At her wicket, close-up
he appears nervous
rocking side to side
glancing over his shoulder
once, twice, three or more times
the smell of dandruff dirt
asking her to withdraw all his funds
but yesterday’s deposited cheque
still isn’t cleared
today’s cheque is postdated
and none of the bank tellers
know who he is “Who is he?”
this stranger in tree-lined village
where everyone knows everyone
So she says, “come back in a few days”
And he begs, “please!”
“They are after me. Call the police”

Following his deep set stare
the blood still thickening on his ear
she “eye spies with her little eyes”
two tall oak-sized men
leaning, loitering near exterior door
jean jacketed, black leather belts
their boots tapping
waiting, waiting
tip, tap,
the sweat dripping
drip drop dripping
from rag doll man’s brow
her heart tic tock ticking
with postdated cheque bomb
his life in her hands

“I’m sorry, I’m new…
I need to talk
to my supervisor”

He trembles
eyes glazing over
fingers fidgeting
The two men, sunglass shaded
their bark, faces turning red
gruff and mean spirited
their hands now curling
into fist knots, the tension
leaving their root posts
moving slow, edging closer
coming closer to listen

He turns, pushing
through bank crowd
runs, running, lurching
stumbling from the branch
tripping, rolling out the door
like broken log past her view
his rusty hair, bark colored complexion
now turning over and over
not yet composting in her mind
wondering where he went
if his mother knew where he was
whether his acquaintances
would thrash him again and again
for thick and thin wad of money
autumn shaded
red, orange, brown Canadian
this paper currency
she refused to rake up
to place in a blistered bag
now wiping blood off her hands

Debbie Okun Hill has received several poetry awards.  "Upon Leaving the Branch" won third place in the individual poetry category of the 2010 Writers Federation of New Brunswick's (WFNB) Literary Competition. More about the WFNB here.  Debbie's poetry also won an honourable mention in The Binnacle's 2010 Annual Ultra-Short Competition.  Info about contest here. Several of Debbie's award-winning poems appear in her first chapbook Swaddled in Comet Dust (Beret Days Press, 2008) with additional prized work to be published in her second chapbook More Comet Dust to be released in late 2010. See her profile at the Ontario Poetry Society here.

For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Debbie, wow! I read this and then I had to wait and think about it. What a story!


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