Friday, August 9, 2013

Cigarette smoke lifts and coils from my right hand, twisting and spiraling in the porch light, I am slightly taken aback by the immensity of it. It's hard to imagine that the whole of it could be condensed into my lungs. Initially I began smoking to emulate my father. I don't begrudge him his smoking, and I have never smoked to excess. One of the earliest memories of my father is of the smell of his woolen sweaters, and the smell of pipe smoke mixed there within; the smell of freshly plained violin tops, and varnish. The memory of his thin hands are as indelibly marked in my mind as were the fingers on his right hand by the tobacco that he smoked.
   But I am grown now, and at times I am surprised maybe by my childishness. When I was young I would pinch loose tobacco leaf from the butler's pantry, from canisters of my father's Drum; and I would pinch it into primitive loosely rolled smokes that I would share with my friends. We never thought to emulate movie stars or the Marlboro man... We only though to emulate the men that we hoped someday to become. These men were far more tangible than the images on billboards; they were our fathers, grandfathers, our uncles, and brothers. They were the men in who's sweaters we had buried our heads, and in who's hands we had found comfort and escape form the limitations of childhood.
 Our mortality to us then was beyond the scope of our imagination. We charged the ramparts of fortified imaginary castles slaying enemies to our left and to our right; our own death as distant too us then as was compassion for the imaginary slain who littered the ground at our feet. We were poster boys for why young men can be convinced to go to war. In our minds we held our ground and defended each other at the Battle Of The Bulge, and in our ration packs would be a pack of lucky strikes.....