What Folks Starved to Leave the House Will Do

Rodney Torreson

Rodney Torreson

What Folks Starved to Leave the House Will Do was accepted as part of the MSU Library Short Edition call for work on the theme of “recovery,” in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibit of Beverly Fishman's art, also called Recovery. The former poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Torreson won the Seattle Review's Bentley Prize, and Storyline Press named him runner-up for the national Roerich Prize for first books. In 2015, the Dyer-Ives Foundation honored him "for his longstanding commitment as a poet, teacher, patron, and advocate for poetry in West Michigan. His third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. His other full-length books of poems are A BREATHABLE LIGHT (New Issues Press. 2002) and THE RIPENING OF PINSTRIPES: CALLED SHOTS ON THE NEW YORK YANKEES (Story Line Press, 1998).

like a herky-jerky old man
at Mr. Burger: cherub faced,
a few hairs hurled across his scalp,
eyes too open, as if in them
abides the whole blue sky,
who can't walk
but with the tiniest steps has learned,
that once he's scooted through the door
(provided another person opens it),
and his windup feet keep circling,
as if peddling, perhaps, a small unicycle,
he can cut through the morning
coffee crowd, his fingers stretching out
like wheel spokes, his bony form
bobbing at a calamitous clip.

Soon he's given to the rhythm
of his hips, the dance
of his silver buckle.
If he slows, he'll lose balance
and drop, as he did a month ago.
but he won't be helped.
This morning, he lunges headlong,
catching himself with his fingertips
on the metal counter,
places his order, and patters
to a booth (not the closest one, mind you),
just missing two grandmothers
sharing photos in the middle aisle,
then stiff-legged at his booth
and with a flip of hips,
folds himself in before
the body knows it's been tricked.

Explore the power of words

Select your story