Stretch Marks and Ash

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The summer before college
my mother invited me to her house for tea,
she said,
but I know she only drinks whiskey.
My tires hit the gravel,
sliding down the narrow driveway,
the whirlpool in my stomach spinning,
something more than tea is waiting.
I turn my key in the doorknob,
surprised it still fits.
I call her name;
I haven’t said “mom” since the day I left.
Silence echoes back,
but I know where she’ll be.
I step onto the back porch
and there a cigarette floats
circling fumes escaping its head.
At first, I think,
nothing has changed
but my eyes travel down,
her growing belly,
stretching out from her blouse,
contrasting the rest of her slim frame.
“She’s the size of an avocado.”
I watch a ring of smoke.
“I’m due in February.”
I remain frozen, entranced.
“She’ll be named after your grandmother.”
Her eyes beg for some response.
All I can see is the cigarette.

Another child born with lungs of ash
She draws another breath.

Kaylee Lowe is an undergraduate student at Cumberland University. She has an Associates of Arts degree and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She has been writing since she was 14 and this is her third appearance in Novus.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN