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Back then, we smoked them. In

every family photo, someone’s smoking.

Such ashes, such sarcasm, the jokes

that once made loved ones

who are dead now laugh and laugh.

Cigarette in hand.

Standing glamorously at the mantel.

The fire glowing

ahead and behind

and all the little glasses

and the snow outside

filling up the birdbaths, the open graves, the eyes.

And the orchestras in gymnasiums!

That mismanagement

of sound. The wonderful

smoke afterward

in parking lots, in lungs. How

homeliness was always followed

by extravagance back then.

Like hearing lovemaking

in another room

or passing suffering

on the side of the road

without even slowing down:

So it is to remember

such times

and to see them again

so vividly in the mind.

Like a mysterious child

traveling toward us

on a moonless night

holding a jar

containing a light.

from Space, In ChainsFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Laura Kasischke
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Laura Kasischke Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.