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Nevertheless (wasps & cigarettes) - Taunja Thomson

One summer when I was three, you heard me laughing

in the backyard, insistent laughter, that of a child who had

discovered some fresh delight. You looked out the window,

saw me under the apple tree in my sun-colored shorts & t-shirt,

the color of the yellowjackets who had come for the sweet

blonde pulp that had fallen to ground, the color of the sharp

saffron bodies I was stomping. You must have felt your heart

seize, but you rushed out &, in a non-stop run, scooped me up

in your arms & into the house.

One sunny, breezy autumn day in my fourth year,

as leaves rushed against our living room window,

I sat on your knee & put your glasses on my too-

small face. You laughed & lit a cigarette, something

you had done hundreds of times in my presence.

Yet the smoke must have struck me differently

because I said, Put that nasty thing out, Daddy.

You did so & never picked up one again.

Now you are 80 & I am 55. We have both survived

this long. Perhaps we have even saved each

other’s lives, you risking your own skin to keep

me from the swarm, & me saving your lungs

& heart from tar & nicotine. We cannot

justify what we have done with the time—

the hateful words parried back & forth

alternating with silence, the rage over


But here we are with pockets full

of sunny days that we might not

have had otherwise, breezes we

might not have felt, ears full

of bumblebees, each season’s

tipping & slipping into the next.

Here we stand, sated with fireflies



Three of Taunja Thomson’s poems have been nominated for Pushcart Awards. She is co-author of Frame and Mount the Sky (2017) and author of Strum and Lull (2019), which placed in Golden Walkman’s 2017 chapbook competition, and The Profusion (2019). Her first full-length collection, Plunge, was published in May of this year.


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