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Mort Smoking Cigar
Mort enjoying a cigar in Cavtat, Croatia

Smoking Cigars

When I smoke a cigar, I'm part of the earth again, but a wilder earth than municipal parks and public gardens. The wrapped brown leaves, brittle, as autumn, smell like rotting fish and crumbling stone.

Even in an apartment high above the city, I become an element of the earth once more, when the cigar smoke enfolds me like the air inside a tomb.

I sit at a table opposite an empty chair when I smoke, and imagine the cigar is an earthen whistle through which I summon whatever ghost will come. Most of the time it's a leathery man, his skin as brown and thin as tobacco leaves.

We sit face to face across the table, not speaking, smoking the same cigar from opposite directions, my mouth clasping the unlit end, and his the fiery cinder whose glow must resemble the burning coal that sprang from the darkness to start the world.

He blows into the cigar as if blowing on the coal, and I suck until I am filled with the life beyond this one. When I exhale, he sips my living air through the pink nipple that scorches his tongue.

In church on Sundays, some people eat and drink the body and blood of their god. I consort with those who are less sublime, the ones who built the pyramids and tombs with their hands, and who vanished without hope of being revered or even remembered.



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