Down a Lane

The contents of the pan
crackle and spit
as the sausages brown
in the bacon grease
saved from Sunday.
Bratwurst destined
to steam in beer.
My father used to tell me
how the smell of fresh pork
reminded him of visiting
his grandfather's meatpacking shop
as a boy. The old man
sent from Germany, early 1900s
came to this country
with the trade he knew best:
stuffing pig into intestines
and peddling swift death.

I light a scented candle
to brighten a dark corner
not realizing which conifer
the label represents.
Balsam fir permeates the air.
I'm brought back to hazy summers
camping in the Adirondacks
with dad and sometimes mom.
A six-by-four pillow
sold as a rustic souvenir
forgotten until now
sits atop a bookcase
a loon stitched to its front
filled with needles from the tree
the wax is emulating.
A sniff gives no sensation.
A squeeze, another snort.
There's nothing in the needles
left to tug my wanting nostrils.
It's now more useless
than the day of purchase.
I sit to eat the bratwurst
and make due with Village Candle.
No wonder they turn a buck.

If I had a home
I wouldn't write to it about my meal.
Sitting with a crisp glass of white
I spark a cigarillo
marketed with a gangster's name
that was gifted by a flame.
It's short and unfiltered
like the best lives.
Something Clint Eastwood would chew.
Tobacco smoke catches my nose
before being sucked
through the box fan in my window.
My mother's uncle used to burn
a similar brand in Puerto Rico.
He was a hard man, a knife scar on his cheek.
I've never known his name, only heard its
foreign syllables whispered in shamed tones.
A drunk, a gambler, a beater of men
he caught his end with baseball bats
walking home one night from a bar.
Maybe over money.
Maybe over a girl.
Maybe over a guy he decked
after a game of dominoes.
It's not something spoken about
in front of the women in the family.
I've never met him
but tonight I breathe him in
one drag at a time.

Some say that smell triggers memory.
If the merchants knew that
they'd charge triple.

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