Mother with Cigarette, Hurricane Bertha
Perched on the radiator, she wears a sundress
owned by her own mother, checkered red
and we watch the gunmetal sky.
Plume after plume of smoke rises, is spun
into gossamer by the ceiling fan.
The five-story oak trees in our yard never move
but now they bow back and forth
as if part of some horrible ritual. I bury
my face in her side and can smell the deep
places I have come from. She swears quietly
noticing her flame has gone out. Lights another match.
Erich Slimak is a singer, amateur basketball historian, and an MFA candidate in poetry at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is also an editorial assistant for Ninth Letter. His writing has appeared in Plainsongs,The Santa Clara Review, and elsewhere.