My Mother Wants a Cigarette by Ralph Savarese

My Mother Wants a Cigarette

Our public health officials have discovered irony,
that wind chime on the porch of the gods,

that spangled irritant. They’re like an older person
with an iPhone, taking selfies, watching videos.

“Now, how does this app work?” They tell us
smoking offers some protection from the virus.

Apparently nicotine inhibits the way it woos
a lung. Think of smoking as a vow of chastity.

Cigarettes and monks both come in packs—in little,
wolf-like monasteries. Their brown and white

Trappist robes beg for a match. At vespers,
fending off the Evil One, they’re all aglow.

Yet when lungs say yes, oh yes, and then elope,
death’s due parting comes more quickly.

Ralph James Savarese is the author of two books of prose, Reasonable People and See It Feelingly, and one book of poetry, Republican Fathers. Ice Cube Press will publish his new collection of poetry, When This Is Over: Pandemic Poems. He teaches at Grinnell College.