A Poem by Cori Davis

AFTER THE ALARM

 
 
Breakfast time and I’m wearing your robe,
The one you forgot on the bathroom door.
It stinks of you, cigarettes and spray deodorant, but hey
It’s fuzzy and warm, so thanks.
Coffee and toast and overcooked eggs
Rubbery and strange yellow, last resort when the cereal is gone.
The first bite is like activated charcoal.
All I can taste is smoke.
 
A burned-down home smells like a campfire,
Gets in your hair, makes you think of marshmallows.
Stay too long and it gets in your mouth,
Gritty ashes and the sour taste of ruined things,
And trying not to look at the victim
Sitting in their bathrobe or Red Cross blanket,
Clutching a cardboard coffee cup,
Wishing to unhappen the last few hours.
What the fire doesn’t get, the water does.
Walk through the burnt places,
Listen to your feet squelch.Ceiling tiles and children’s clothes
And the carbonized husks of hardback books
Like marshmallows, pull off the burnt cover and see the white insides.
You look for the treasures,
Driver’s license, car keys, photo albums
Anything not ruined,
Anything that will let that victim start again.
 
Smoke in my mouth today reminds me of you,
The way you soaked into my clothes, my hair, my skin.
The way my eyes burn, the way I choked on you.
I can’t taste a thing and it’s your fault.
You were the faulty wiring inside me,
The pilot light next to oil-soaked rags
The unattended pan on the stove.
Harmless until you burned me to the ground,
Leaving me with spongy yellow eggs
And a bad taste in my mouth,
And my feet soaked with memories,
And a chunk of life that won’t unhappen.
But I eat the damn eggs.
I still have my treasures.
I can start over once I finish my coffee.
 
 

Cori Davis is an attorney and writer from Northwest Florida. She has been published in the Blackwater Review and won the 2018 Creative Nonfiction prize at Northwest Florida State College. Most of her non-writing time is spent working for several volunteer organizations as well as homeschooling her eight year old son, from whom she derives a great deal of creative inspiration.

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