I take the left forkin the trail to avoid disappointment
and only light my secret
once I have passed the surge
of buttercups on the fringe. I like
to smoke sometimes, but can’t bear
what she would say if she knew.
Up here, the air is ten degrees cooler
and the trail’s edge is littered
with thick tufts of carpet bugle,
and climbing roses strangle the underbrush.
It is cut throat here; they stand on top
of each other for sustenance—reaching
their thorns across a sweet honeysuckle’s
face, bleeding her pale and withered.
One can barely discern where raspberries
begin and roses end, both fruitless now.
Near the end of the paved path
there is a hole in the branches web,
the red of Canadian Columbine catches
my eye as birds dart through for cover.
I am a stranger, upright and un-feathered,
and they call warnings I do not heed.
I am swallowed by conflictions in nature
and the smell of tobacco burning between
my fingers, remembering that she still tells people
how she caught me smoking last summer, just
that once, and it was a mistake.
So now the taste has gone bad, fetid and dirty
in my mouth, head swimming from its rush,
and heart tripping like a hammer. I snub it out
on the concrete before descending back into humidity
and neatly shorn lawns and cookie cutter
buildings, back into reality.
Aleathia Drehmer 2009
Published by Creekwalker 7/09