I know now it wasn’t the cigarettes.
The burning was behind your eyes;
you saw the world through smoke.
You came home like a man going to war,
set up camp on the living room couch.
You occupied our childhood.
Hands, words, and glances struck,
scraped like matches across our hearts
until we felt the burning too.
This legacy of fire didn’t start with you.
Your father left you a smoker’s birthright;
we come from generations of arsonists.
Now you’re gone and I have a family of my own.
This should be easy, breaking chains of smoke.
But how do you build a firebreak against history?
By Charles Duffie
Charles Duffie is a writer working in the Los Angeles area. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review of Books, So It Goes (The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library), Anastamos, Bacopa Literary Review, Prime Number Magazine, Exposition Review, Mojave River Press, Meat for Tea, Heavy Feather Review, FlashBack Fiction, Riggwelter, and American Fiction by New Rivers Press.