He smoked camel unfiltered.His teeth and fingers the color
of the sticky tobacco juice that would
bake into our skin when we worked
the tobacco fields
in Tennessee. She smoked, too,
but in secrecy.
She would sneak cigarettes
from the cartons he’d leave
in their bedroom...enough to last her
until he got back in a week
or two, or three. He was
a cross-country trucker,she was a woman who thought
booze and cigarettes were from
the devil – so she hid her
addiction. It calmed her nerves
she said when we found out,
she needed her nerves
calmed. He died of lung cancerat the age of fifty-seven – gave
up the smokes when he was hooked
up to oxygen and cancer drugs.
She still chain smokes at the age
of eighty-six and says
she could quit if she wanted to.
The smoke gathers round her headas she blows into the air through
nostrils yellowed now and her lips
shrivel around another
puff seconds later. She looks
over at me as she spits
a fleck of brown onto her finger
and slings it over the rail, then spits
a period to the side. At her age
Why would she want to?