[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.

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Brooklyn, NY