Gone to Ash – Tom Barlow
The flowers lose themselves in grieving
and each petal falls like a day that
never was, but we all agree, should have been.
I am furious that halfway through my mother’s
service I can think of nothing but a cigarette;
did her life mean less to me than nicotine?
Shall I think of her now every time I launch into a
coughing jag and dislodge the ashes from my smoke?
This is what The British American Tobacco Group
is offering me with every pack of Lucky Strikes,
a chance to mourn her twenty times.
She is, after all, the first I knew gone to ash.
I cannot help but imagine the blaze climbing her
body just as this ember races toward the filter,
and with each millimeter, I smoke away a little more
of my life too. Hold fast, I whisper as we spread her ashes.
I shan’t be long.
Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer of poetry, short stories and novels. His work has appeared in journals including They Said, PlainSongs, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Aji, The New York Quarterly, The Modern Poetry Quarterly, and many more. See more at tombarlowauthor.com.