Nick Smith is an eastern Kentucky hillbilly and editor of Wind, currently adventuring before retreating to a cave to live a long lazy life.


Today brought us your body

dead on the same couch you found your husband on
lower lip filled with snuff
your sister called
and even when you didn’t show up
like you had every morning for decades
she wouldn’t go onto the porch
but sat on the couch
watching the road
working the last of her molars
free from its case
coppery blood running down her throat
and lips

Today was visitation

and even now your sister cries on the couch
we wonder aloud how she’ll survive
and stand in twos and threes
smoking and laughing
food has started coming
and will for weeks
your church has one room

A funeral

my first was your mother
sick only for two weeks before death
we file past your body
stopping a last time
I remember you kissing her
in a time similar to now
and falling back unconscious
the sound you made
a wail like my mother’s
lips parted for your flesh
we cover you with shovels
we thaw the frosty earth

Who will cook our Sunday dinner

I learned from you how to light the stove
blowing the blue flickers to make them catch
today I built a sling for mom
and carry her with me on my back
I have already learned to live with wet shoulders

Mom chastises my ears

for not using measuring cups
but I trust my hands to be like yours
they are already liverspotting
scooping the right amount into the bowl
I don’t have to duck your ceiling fan for the first time in years
we’ve taken to cooking supper at your house
and tonight I notice a deep groove in my forearm when
I stoop to light the oven

They always said your hair was jet black until

you were twenty
when it went white all at once
your death has done the same to me
we stayed here last night
mom curled into my back

I wake up early like you did

but go back to sleep after a drink
of water hiding myself under covers
until everyone’s at church
the world is heavier than yesterday
my hands softer and fleshy
I won’t know how
when they get home
to explain that I’m turning into you
that I’m forgetting how to read
remembering how to cook
pulling scoops of flour into the bowl
running a rolling pin
I wonder if my sex will change
what day it will happen on
I have new memories
of planting a silver maple
of long weeks without David
and under all this
I am cooking dinner
waiting for my kids
and grandkids and nieces
I worry about what you all will
say when you see my teeth
rottening from 20 to 77 years
overnight and if I am tricking
myself to think that this change
will replace you
that when this happened
I forgot the color of your eyes
I will fall asleep before you all come back
lucky enough to not have the stove
catch the house on fire
I’ll wake up with my shoes off
and this tells me everything is ok
because love is taking someone’s shoes off
one lace at a time while they sleep