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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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SMOKE SIGNALS

 

Our smoke blows toward the house next door,

I mouth a silent apology. First sticks and brush,

then piles of papers, old bank statements –

we share our financial history with the breeze.

 

A final fire in the backyard before

we shut down for winter. One last chance

to pretend it’s summer and we can still

accomplish what in spring we promised.

 

Neighbors come over for dinner.

The kids play Ghosts in the Graveyard,

adults inch closer to the flames,

conversations quieter than in July.

 

Someone asks for marshmallows.

After a long search a bag is found

from the back of the pantry, half-empty,

contents stuck together.

 

I slowly rotate mine over the flames,

trying for that perfect golden brown.

My wife prefers to stick hers directly in the fire

and watch it burn, savoring the charred remains.

 

The conversation turns to an absent couple.

Are they ever going to have kids?

Did they need that new car? I look

at my wife and wonder what is said

 

about us during our absences, hoping it’s not

‘what is she doing with him,’

although that’s what I would question.

I go for drinks and it’s shocking

 

how cold it is as I move away from the heat.

I come back to find another log on the fire

but doubt that the others will still

be here when it has morphed to ash.

 

—David Mihalyov

File:Frederic Remington smoke signal.jpg

Smoke Signal, 1905
Frederic Remington, oil on canvas