Honorable Mention – 2022 Beverly Hopkins Contest for High School Students

Brown Buttons

Clayton High School

I know a trainer who wears a wrinkled shirt with
brown buttons the width of a dime, and he lugs a hundred-pound bale of hay,
and helps himself to stale corn tortillas, who tells his brother with a large sigh
that it’s hotter than yesterday and will be hotter yet tomorrow, that the damn air
conditioner is broken,
shaking his head side to side, praying for a win on Friday night,
and is on his way with his hair slicked back with the gel from Mi Tierra that
smells like the 7th grade
and calloused palms.
He spends a couple dollars or so every Friday night at the neighborhood bar,
ordering his usual, a Cantarito,
with the bartender who gives him a soft smile,
the only smile he’s seen around here in years.
He remembers when the track was full of life, when the people were happy,
when microwaves and heaters were allowed in the dorms.
He busts his knuckles on the cinder block wall, and pulls his hand away stinging
pain to mend his hurting, aching soul.