One of Those Winter Evenings

Equipped with scissors, I head toward the shed,
a plywood structure with spaces
between the boards. Mom has handed me over
to her friend, Ann, while Mom celebrates her
divorce and vacations for two weeks in Florida.
To secure a touch of home, I have brought a
box full of clippings, but the real treasure lies
in the shed among stacks of old newspapers.
I am a ninety-one-pound twelve-year-old who
lives inside his own world and cuts posters from
movie magazines. The lure of the shed is
an opportunity to add to my clippings.

With my head down, I hurry through February
snow squall to the shed door. I have been given
a key and permission to rummage through old
newspapers, my objective: to make a surrogate
family from comic strips.

I choose Gasoline Alley and Brenda Starr,
look through voluminous stacks for those
comics. If I find enough for a storyline,
I can step into an imagined world where
abusive dads, divorce and hurt do not exist.
My hand aches from gripping scissors
for over an hour in the cold. By the time
I stop cutting, daylight has dimmed to twilight.

That night, I lie in bed with my box of clippings.
Lamplight catches snow blowing across the
window, and I am satisfied and content to belong
to the untroubled existence of paper lives.

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University, and for thirty years taught for the Columbus City Schools. In addition to English, he taught Drama and developed a Writers Seminar for select students. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, named Nik the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of fifteen books. Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2021, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award. In 2022, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Hundreds of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron Review, Concho River Review, Eunoia Review, The Bombay Review, Humana Obscura, and West Trade Review.

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