Other Than

I had my life once, where the branches of an oak
met in the shape of a divergent letter L.

I had it up there, playing sentinel above the ugly
ground, neither of us apologetic for what we were,

and were not. A candy cigarette hung from my mouth
the way I’d seen real ones caught in my mother’s tight

lips, their shafts smeared with adobe-colored L’Oreal,
the kind that shimmers like fish scales.The design

of cigarettes moved me to dissection. White paper
thin as onion skin holding at bay soil-rich tobacco.

The thick, fibrous material of each filter, dark with tar
after use. Years later, I would learn we all grow dark

filtering out what the world is in favor of what it is not.
A dry creek bed becomes something other than a gash

that will never heal. A dead tree other than lightening, upside
down, reaching toward, rather than falling from, the sky.

About the author

Dana Guthrie Martin was born and raised in Oklahoma and now divides her time between Missouri and Washington State. Her chapbooks include In the…

Read the full bio

Issue 14 · February 2012

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