[I smoke my last few days' cigarettes]
I smoke my last few days' cigarettes
and feel like I'm a cliff,
or the day's a cliff,
or the time in the morning
in New York is a cliff—
honeycomb lungs and wrecked throat—
airport by 8 a.m., ragged
in the blue light. Savannah by noon.
Dad in the Toyota, black
and splattered with fort mud, cluttered
with fishing gear, shotgun shells, turkey feathers.
We take off straight for the mountains
in Saluda. I crack open pistachios,
pass them to my dad, throw
the dusty shells on the floor.
Still feel like I'm a cliff—
just in motion. My dad hasn't noticed
anything abrupt or crumbly
or cigarette stenched about me yet.
The problem with being a cliff
is becoming an edge
against everything, although the view
has its advantages. When we get
to his fishing buddy's house,
I hula-hoop on the deck
over a sloping gully of kudzu
until the casting lesson begins in the yard
where I learn how to feel
the line let out, before I hear stories
about my dad in his drinking days,
before I hook the fly
in the pitch pine, before I sit
and look over the back porch ledge
to see a beady black hummingbird
come down from some canopy
to hover at the edge of the feeder
and notice how its tiny feet
must make for lighter flight.