“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” – James Baldwin (Life Magazine interview, May 24, 1963)
I’m reading James Baldwin on my lunch hour,
office door closed
heels kicked off on the floor,
bare feet up on the desk.
I’m reading James Baldwin on my lunch hour
and eating red grapes somewhat past their prime.
My fingers are
sticking to the pages of the
library’s copy of Another Country,
and I wonder who else has enjoyed these words before me,
telling of a world of black skin touching white skin
of dreamers stumbling in the dark of New York
and through the gray rains of Paris,
of male bodies pushed up against male bodies.
I’m reading James Baldwin on my lunch hour.
It’s a secret I’m keeping to myself
as I walk through the rest of my afternoon
heels clicking in the quiet halls of the law firm.
I still hear Baldwin’s
voice whispering to me
quietly all day.
Brooke Palma grew up in Philadelphia and currently lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English. An office manager by day and poet by night, she has been published in The Mad Poets’ Review, Whirlwind Magazine, and Moonstone Arts. She has been a featured reader at the Pen and Pencil Club, the Dead Bards of Philadelphia, Moonstone Arts at Fergie’s Pub, Thirty West Publishing House at the Big Blue Marble, and the Livin’ on Luck Poetry Series at Barnaby’s West Chester, which she now hosts. As the child of an immigrant, many of her poems focus on the connections between culture and identity and finding beauty in the everyday.