The Smoker

Your house smelt of beer and bubbles,

A lingering just-vaccumed scent layered over nicotine that never left…

I guess you found them again.

Us kids, altruistic but ultimately, obvious.

 

Whispers fled,

Cancer, cancer

And we thought that just meant you’d need time,

Not that time was up.

 

‘just fishing’ – the sign over the door

Had always seemed cheeky and true but

Death changed that into something menacing

You did not go fishing again.

 

You used to light a spotlight over the river

So we could watch the fish swim by.

You knew all the breeds and varieties but

Mostly were too drunk to tell us

 

It was your birthday, but

What do you buy a man who is

dying

The collection of cheerily wrapped rum and cigarettes seemed mocking.

Futile.

 

You had no answers left, and if you did, no breath to speak them

Reduced to stretched yellow skin beneath

Striped pajamas too big for your bones

Tubes that creaked and a machine that wheezed as you wheezed

 

A priest came to your bedside

Dying at home was supposed to bring you peace but

This was no longer a home just

A meeting room to plan a life without you.

 

The last time I saw you

Holy water flew and

Your wife crouched beside you

And you turned your back

On us

To look out the window

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