Gene Kimmet

Accident in Broken Bow

In the high heat of afternoon
I sit on a bench in the square
Of this dry Nebraska town.

A small boy speeds around
The rim of the park on a bike
Too tall for his legs.

There are only two of us,
Audience and actor
In an uncontested race.

On the third lap he strikes
The corner of a monument
To an early pioneer.

I pick him up. “I think my leg
Is broke,” he says, holding
Back the tears.

There is an angry scrape
Above his shin, but the leg
Still seems to work.

His bike has thrown its chain,
Front wheel turned aside.
I straighten it, restring the gears.

Still clenching teeth, he shows me
His brother’s watch, counts off
The time he’s still allowed to ride.

Five more laps at lesser pace
And with one quick wave
He peels away toward home.

And in this unrelenting heat
That curls the willow’s leaves
Yet cannot wilt its stubborn heart,

Something in this small boy’s grit
Speaks of the enduring strength
That habits in these lonely places.

Gene Kimmet is a retired professor of economics from Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

He was born in Lima, Ohio, a town with a long history of heavy industrial production. Kimmet worked at a variety of jobs there, including lens grinder, foundry worker, service station operator, and salesman, before receiving a BA in economics from Ohio Northern University. He later earned an MA in economics from Case Western Reserve University and a post master’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University.

Kimmet has also done extensive graduate work in English and creative writing at Northern Illinois University and the University of Virginia.

His poetry collections include Recollections of My Father  (Canopic Publishing, 2015),  Skipping Stone (Dream Stone Press, 2000) and In Fee Simple (Stormline Press, 1986.)