gum
What I Found
by Laurie Kolp

Buried in the sand, a new pack
of gum — green gum, to be exact
Extra spearmint like you used to chew.

It replaced the pack
of cigarettes you smoked each day
before your lung collapsed
like a sand castle marred with tar
from an oil spill.

The chewing gum a minty wave
attacking taste buds, opening
sinuses, unlike the first puff
that made you high
the first time you puffed
before one puff wasn’t enough.

As I walk by, I think about
the way you fell asleep, gum in mouth
and then woke up with sticky wads
of green on your white pillowcase.

Still, you wanted another piece, even
in the end when bedridden, your right arm
the only thing left to move. You said
it was all you had to do, chew gum while
lying there all day long, dying.

I brush the sand off the cellophane, pull
gold thread around the top like one
would do with a brand-new pack
of Marlboro Menthols, only
it’s Extra spearmint chewing gum.
I chew it in memory of you.
Thank God it’s sugar-free.

SOURCE: “What I Found” is featured in the author’s chapbook Hello, it’s Your Mother (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and in Mused: The BellaOnline Literary Review.

KOLP BEACH SELF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurie Kolp, author of  Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother, has poems in Rust + Moth, Bracken, concis, Prelude, Crack the Spine, and more. She lives in Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs. Learn more at lauriekolp.com.

PHOTO: The author during a beach trip, 2014.