Laura Kasischke


Back then, we smoked them. In
every family photo, someone’s smoking.

Such ashes, such sarcasm, the jokes
that once made loved ones
who are dead now laugh and laugh.

Cigarette in hand.
Standing glamorously at the mantel.
The fire glowing
ahead and behind
and all the little glasses
and the snow outside

filling up the birdbaths, the open graves, the eyes.

And the orchestras in gymnasiums!
That mismanagement
of sound. The wonderful
smoke afterward
in parking lots, in lungs. How

homeliness was always followed
by extravagance back then.

Like hearing lovemaking
in another room
or passing suffering on the side of the road
without even slowing down:

So it is to remember
such times
and to see them again
so vividly in the mind.

Like a mysterious child
traveling toward us
on a moonless night
holding a jar
containing a light.