My mother left
my father for
all of twenty minutes.
That’s a fact, scrawled on a post-it that she found stuck to page 313 in The Catholic Baby Name Book, the page with Samson, Samuel, Sanctan: so many variants. When people see the book on the coffee table, they get the wrong idea, glance at her middle. Really, she’s just researching saints, gets caught up in the stories that a name like “Claudine” suggests.
She unsticks the Post-it from the page, rewrites the sentence into lines of a poem that she may or may not finish. She remembers the occasion: her father, drunk at an anniversary party, slapped her hard. She reeled backward, off a second-story porch. Miraculously, only her breath was knocked from her.
Once home, amid all the howling, she packed what she could fit in her small suitcase: not much, but much more than she needed.
Ellen Noonan earned her MFA at Emerson College and is a lecturer in the English Department at Northeastern University in Boston. Her poems have been published in the University Reporter, Spectrum, and Beacon Street Review, and she attended the inaugural session of the Ashbery Home School this past August.