“My Aunt Smokes Another Lucky”

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“My Aunt Smokes Another Lucky”

by Michael McFee
Southern Cultures, Vol. 12, No. 2: The Tobacco Issue

". . . and everybody laughs, especially my aunt, smoke haunting her head like ghosts of family."

She slips it out of its leatherette case,
an immaculate cartridge
she clenches between the red bow of her lips
while flicking her butane lighter,
sucking deeply until the tip
starts to crackle and glow like a fuse.
She snaps the lighter shut and blows smoke
through pursed lips over her shoulder,
lifting the Lucky between two rednail fingers
like somebody about to take an oath,
her hand’s glamorous gesture
echoing the pale curve of her cheek.

She smokes her way through another story,
punctuates it with the Lucky
she keeps sharp with crisp drags and raps
into the Everglades souvenir ashtray.
She squints at her cigarette:
one bitter puff and she wrings its neck

in the overflowing nest of ashes,
the lipstick on its butt so alluring
that when I start smoking candy cigarettes
I put the lit end in my mouth
and everybody laughs, especially my aunt,
smoke haunting her head like ghosts of family.