Smokers used to surround

my mother’s desk

when she worked

in the Exxon building

as a secretary,

before computers,

when it was hard

to find a place

without smokers

to get fresh air,

and she would come home sick,

with no blue

smoke in our house,


but this woman

standing outside

the Disability office all the way to the street

was reading

a book in the rain,

cold day,

the big black umbrella open

on her work break,

cigarette in her mouth,

made me wonder

about how we push

people away from us,

even when I know smoke

makes me sick,

and I will think about

her next time I sit

with my book

next to the candy machine,

with the bus drivers

coming in

with their blue

uniforms on after using the restroom.




Benjamin Nash has had poems accepted in Concho River Review, Louisiana Literature, 2River, Pembroke Magazine, and other publications.