“The Elk” by J. Lorraine Brown

Coffee ice cream was his favorite,
tomato soup with a pat of butter,
smooth peanut butter out of the jar.
He loved big band music—
Glenn Miller’s Poinciana.
The Red Sox drove him crazy.

Sundays, he sat on the bench
in our breakfast nook,
invoices sorted into jerky piles,
adding machine arched like a dragon.

He wore work pants ironed
by my mother, a tan shirt
with a Mobil patch on the pocket
(silver tire gauge tucked in the corner).
Cold weather cracked his hands.

But he astonished as an Elk
when he wore his black tuxedo
and a jeweled medallion on a chain—
the “Tiler” who stood by the door
to introduce the other Elks
like a butler at a fancy ball.

They met in the old church basement
where he introduced the “Exalted Ruler.”
Exhausted Rooster, he told me,
and the medallion was real,
not some cheap little trinket.

J. Lorraine Brown

J. Lorraine Brown

J. Lorraine Brown is the recipient ofa MA Professional Development Grant and a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. She has been published in such literary journals as the Cumberland Poetry Review and the North American Review. She received a PNWA Zola Award, and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser selected one of her poems for his nationwide newspaper column. Her chapbook, Skating on Bones, was a 2012 “Must-Read” Book of Poetry. Her 2nd and 3rd chapbooks were nominated for this award as well. Her poetry is part of Broadsides on the Bus, 2014, a collaborative effort celebrating Cape Cod poets and artists.