Poems by Aimee Noel




Fish-fry fed, I was led out the back of Elmer’s Grill,
and warned not to unlock our truck for anyone. I didn’t

know enough to care about my clothes as I
myself deep behind the seats, watching headlights leave

for homes where children waited in a bed. I
keys for places I’d never been, mysterious as tackle box

lures. Too tired to arrange a bed from the fan belts,
———work shirts,
and coils of hoses, I surrendered

in whichever direction I fell, onto a
of coveralls smelling of my dad’s hamper.

I never remember falling asleep, so I was always
when the one-knuckled knock came.

My body bent over the front seats, I would
to pull the door handle open. Closing time.


Luxury of Snow


As if a blizzard can trigger muscle memory,
my cells slow through my own system
conserving themselves. Boots and a shovel

stand at the door like my mom had put them there
herself. I wait out the storm with a luxury
that my parents did not have. I sit surrounded

by fireworks of ice pulsing against each pane
remembering my mom leaning towards the windshield
as if these extra inches kept her from snow blindness.

As if her concentration alone ensured each tire’s purchase
on slick roads. She willed the flakes from needling
their way into her vision and followed tail lights blinking

their own desperation. This train of cars slowed
enough to share a pledge to keep moving forward
for those behind and ahead. That each driver will go

to where they have to be. That they will get paid, or fed,
or offer themselves for the same. I watch the snow
swirl itself, guilty of having nowhere I need to go.


Aimee Noel writes from Dayton, Ohio, where she is an educator and advocate for food access. Her poems have been published in works such as Michigan Quarterly ReviewWitnessGreat Lakes Review, and elsewhere. She was chosen as Ohio Arts Council’s Summer Fellow for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and twice earned OAC’s Individual Excellence Award for poetry. Find more at aimeenoel.net.


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