Poetry - Issue 14 | February 2012

Other Than

by Dana

Other Than

I had my life once, where the branches of an oak
met in the shape of a divergent letter L.

I had it up there, playing sentinel above the ugly
ground, neither of us apologetic for what we were,

and were not. A candy cigarette hung from my mouth
the way I’d seen real ones caught in my mother’s tight

lips, their shafts smeared with adobe-colored L’Oreal,
the kind that shimmers like fish scales.The design

of cigarettes moved me to dissection. White paper
thin as onion skin holding at bay soil-rich tobacco.

The thick, fibrous material of each filter, dark with tar
after use. Years later, I would learn we all grow dark

filtering out what the world is in favor of what it is not.
A dry creek bed becomes something other than a gash

that will never heal. A dead tree other than lightening, upside
down, reaching toward, rather than falling from, the sky.

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