We move like ghosts through the trees
this gray spring morning
my coat as wet as the dog’s
A bright goldfinch flies across our path
startles us

Like your name in this morning’s newspaper
after all these years
startles me
They mention our failed marriage
misspell my name

The dog and I climb the hill home
Suddenly the wind blows
I smell cigarette smoke
The dog growls, ears up
I look around
There are only shadows in the woods

I remember you crossed the street
in front of my car
one summer day so bright
I almost couldn’t see you
so hot you shimmered
like the smoke from your cigarette
I caught my hand mid-gesture
waving to you
You walked over
appeared more solid as you got closer
How could I know then
I would never see you again?

© Katherine Gekker 2006 (Originally published in 
"The Northern Virginia Review," Issue 20, Spring 2006)

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2 Responses to Smoke

  1. Sarah Nelson says:

    As I sit entranced by this poem I wish I could respond in poetry myself, but instead, I am held almost motionless, holding my breath. quietly tip-toeing through the lines.

  2. Nancy says:

    I just read “Smoke”. So poignant. I like the foreshadowing of “ghosts”. The “misspelled my name” sends a chill. “shimmered”, the “smell of smoke” all joining to create the aura of presence, of smoke . . . beautiful.

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