Old As You

Leslie Ferguson

I see you in my mirror
the pores in my skin
and the high bones
in my cheeks
we are

wine glass lipstick
smooth, cool map of freckles
and how, when I lay my cheek
against your legs, I smell
a campfire
the fire burning down the tip
of your cigarette
hanging from your lips

you heaved the television
out the window I didn’t see you do it but
the television landed on the grass
and it had to be you

you came outside
quivering lips mouthed something,
cigarette fell
held your hands out, palms up, to catch a falling sky.

I stopped fearing
you might kill us
with your bare hands as we slept
you: forty-one
me: ten
forty-one: the age I am now
and you are dead

and I never smelled the smoke again
in your hair
on your fingers
your face

my guilt my absence my need for redemption
no longer catches in my throat
like a splintered fragile bone

but I feel it there
wearing smooth as
worn smaller and shiny
with trying.


Leslie Ferguson has just finished her first book-length work, When I Was Her Daughter: A Memoir of Disorder, about one family’s struggle with mental illness, an excerpt of which has been published in San Diego Writers’ Ink’s A Year in Ink, Volume 9. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University. In San Diego, California, she teaches English, practices yoga, and lives happily with one husband and two cats.