by Alexandra Batson
I was nine
when I watched my mother cough until she couldn’t breath;
I never thought that would be me.
Now sixty-three,
my lungs collapse and my heart is worn out; a flower fighting to survive slow murderous frost.
I long for just one more cigarette –
I sit on the white bench stained with rust on the back porch and imagine the ember
blazing against the last cold bite of April air.
I would die to feed on the filtered tip, to feel the darkness tingle my tongue.
Instead oxygen is fed to me through a tank
like a mother feeds a child.
Husbands? Who needs ‘em? I had a few, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t mean anything.
I have all I need now – an oxygen tank, and a daughter who lives in my house, and brings me vodka.
I look up at my soon-to-be garden through an empty glass, vision distorted,
the glass used to be filled with a vodka tonic
this garden used to be filled with growth my
body used to be filled with life.
In a month, “Will I make it another month?” I ask out loud, to make sure I’m still alive. Tina and I will shop for flowers to fill the space the winter cold has taken hostage: Widow’s Tears, Bleeding Hearts, German Irises, Panseys
The world lives to see another spring, everything comes back to life.
Curtis, the little black boy from down the street will ride his bike to come chat
with me on the back porch.
Rebirth and youth come together while emphysema picks another victim to meet Death.
What about the grandchildren? I promised the oldest, when she was the only,
that I would live forever. She will remember this while she sits at my side…
Will anyone tell Curtis where I went?

0 thoughts on “Emphysema

  1. This poem deserves a comment, I just don’t know what to say. Maybe the fact that my own body is falling apart – and I smoke like a chimney – says plenty. In other words, I can relate. This is a cautionary tale if I ever heard one.

  2. Bodies fall apart. Inhaling burnt leaf jerky accelerates the process. If life is a race to the end, it is one way to get there.
    Curtis is the cigarette you left hidden under the cat’s dish. It will be found and you will be forgiven with a roll of the eyes and a patient acceptance that only addiction can illicit from loved ones. You will be missed and remembered every time a kid brings mommy a butt from the yard to ask who wore the lipstick that kissed it goodbye.

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