blue thread

In four sections, Jenny Hong ’23 reflects and reminisces about a familial relationship, exploring the emotional impact and implications of smoking through free-verse poetry. 



you sit on the couch, 

feet on the coffee table.

blue thread trails from your cigarette out the window.

people always say you have my eyes,

your father’s cheekbones.


tell me about work.

how my grandchildren are doing.

make sure they learn their times tables.

i will give them caramels.


young man, arms wide open.

hold your dear mother.

before i am too frail to be held,

before the pale horse comes to bear me away.


your father says something. your eyes crinkle with joy.

you, young man, are in your prime.

you have nothing but time.

do what makes you happy.

do what sets you free.



you sit in my rocker,

pack of camels on the coffee table.

i pluck a loose thread from your coat.

smoke billows out of your mouth,

condenses on my corneas.


you are coughing. 

have my scarf.

it is cold outside.

let me make you tea.


young man, shoulders round.

hold your dear mother.

my blood is your blood.

my time is your time.


you reach forward. yellow fingers. 

another smoke. young man, dear, 

isn’t one enough?

time and time again, you say you’re quitting.

i want to believe you. i do.



you sit on the bed

propped by two, three pillows.

tubes thread into your arm, disappear.

i squeeze your hand, squeeze my eyes.

i will be strong for you.


do try to sleep.

do try to eat.

do have some water.

i’ll heat it up for you.


young man, pale blue gown.

let your dear mother hold you.

the snow outside is starting to melt.

i hope you get to see the flowers.


someone discards an empty pack of camels. 

my stomach knots.

i should have taken them.

should have known.

should have known while there was time.



you sit in the clouds. 

i pick up the threads of hair from your pillow,

pick up the threads of my life.

you are a boy again. you have my eyes,

your father’s cheekbones.


write me. 

tell me you’re coming home.

is it cold up there?

let me make you tea.


young man, brilliant smile.

i wish i had held you.

safe from the horseman with the scythe.

safe from yourself. safe from me.


my mind is a cage. 

my heart, a candle snuffed.

i have nothing but time.

young man, do forgive me.

i will bring you the flowers you could not see.

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