Mary Stone Dockery


Let's say you wake, every ashtray
tossed into the garbage can the night

before and you can nearly smell the rust
smearing your arms as you imagine dragging

each one out to hide in your home.
Let's say you pace the rooms, toss

the smoke-stained mattress in the front yard,
bring the hose inside and wet the walls.

You will keep moving. You will rid the home
of the scent you've opened every morning

for ten years. Let's say you plant palm trees
in the basement, wipe the baseboards

with cooking grease. Put a cake in the oven
and eat nearly all of it in one day, by hand.

The kitchen is a panic room, all carrots
and pumpkin pie and memories of standing.

Let's say you invite your friends over
and they flick their butts into the garden

and clouds groan out of the ground.
They watch you wrap cinnamon sticks

in wax paper, light each end, place the burn
to your lips, fingertips, nipples. You have been

half-naked all along, ironing palm leaves, mopping
with whiskey. Let's say you calm one day,

sit at a table with a glass of red wine. A lover stands
at the other end of the room smoking a Marlboro,

full flavor, offers you his hand. Let's say you
give in to one last cigarette and the trees turn

greener, the sky opens till it's perfectly flat.
The day becomes brighter till it's not.

Let's say you watch the lover leave
and the charcoal footprints and the bruises

lift from your sleepy lungs,
your panty line visible behind all the smoke.

Mary Stone Dockery is the author of Mythology of Touch. Aching Buttons, a chapbook, was recently released by Dancing Girl Press, and another chapbook, Blink Finch, is forthcoming from Kattywompus Press. Her poetry and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in many fine journals, including Mid-American Review, Gargoyle, Arts & Letters, South Dakota Review, and others. She currently lives, writes, and teaches in St. Joseph, MO.

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