Marie, Your Smile (prose poem)
captures my mind’s eye as you stumble across a smoke-filled passage desperate for air as the Fire Marshall’s Office later surmised, crawling on bruised knees afraid to take a breath but you did, the heat scorching, an evil hidden within belching smoke which first awakened you and your rush downstairs to shake your man awake, notorious for falling asleep, cigarette burning. The flames advanced rapidly, delicious for a victim. The new house with the big mortgage is now gone, hard earned money gone, years of saving gone, and outdone by a life, lost.
I remember you nursing others at hospital emergency then accepting last breaths in Palliative Care. You were a consoling angel for your patients, yet worrying too about a husband careless with leftover butts, wondering if he would be asleep before you finished your shift. Not just a memory dear one since I still see your face, and hearing those after-work steps slowing up our steep staircase, puffing for air, that special smile, your gasp of awe at the last dip of evening sun, before turning in. I can still feel that smile.
© Richard L. Provencher