Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What do I think of smoking?

What do I think of smoking?

It stinks.

But not the smoke
those diaphanous tendrils
that tease thoughts of other days
longer days
quieter days

days when time couldn’t move fast enough

when dreams were focused
on a far distant future
where life would be in my grasp
and the world would be mine to conquer

days when worries were spent
on returning home in time
to catch a new episode of Bonanza
or the once-per-year showing
of a favorite Disney movie

days when treasures awaited
around every bend in the road
and fears were erased
by simply pulling a blanket over my head

days when I could curl up
into a soft, comforting lap to fall asleep
with one ear tuned to an Errol Flynn movie
and the other to my grandfather’s heartbeat

days when the smell of cigarette smoke
mingled with coffee
and hot bread from the Italian woman next door
slathered with fresh sweet butter
--the kind that comes in chunks
rather than neat rectangular cubes--
and the sound of my grandmother’s voice
her soft Norvegian accent
arguing about long dead presidents
and then laughing
as though she had never been arguing at all

days when the lingering smell of cigar smoke
meant the milkman had come and gone
and the more gentle smell of a pipe
meant someone special was visiting, still

It’s strange to realize how much
I hate the smell of cigarette ashes
how cigarette buttes make me gag
how anxious I am to flee an elevator
after being trapped inside with a smoker
--that fact obvious by the odor on his clothes

and yet the smoke itself spurs memories
that can make me almost believe
I can curl up in my bestefar’s lap
and hear him call me karesta
while I fall asleep to the sound of his heartbeat
and my grandmother’s laughter
and the smell of hot buttered Italian bread.

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