When the Branch Hits the Ground

Nathaniel awoke from a bad dream but it did not keep in memory

He couldn’t see through the foggy mist resembling smoke

Could barely even see a tree branch

So he stepped from the end

Of his bed to mark his calendar

Not realizing that he was marking the day of his death


There was no way he could have foreseen his death

But that doesn’t change how we look at him in memory

And we continue to mark our calendars

Every day the way he did lighting a cigarette, watching the smoke

Hit the nearest tree branch


Nathaniel saw a small bird sitting on a branch

The first in a series of events that would lead to his death

The beginning of the end

He whistles a tune he knows from memory

He lit another cigarette blowing a cloud of smoke

And stared at the calendar


Looking at the date of his birthday, still staring at the calendar

The bird smelling the cigarette flew away from its beloved branch

While Nathaniel continued to blow, the smoke

Traveling throughout his house made him think of death

And lung cancer and memories

Of being told that cigarettes could kill and could lead to his end


Cigarettes would not be what caused his end

But he threw it in the ashtray that sat below his calendar

As the thoughts and memories

Were too haunting. He turned and saw a wind break the small branch

From the tree, the one that held the bird. He had only a few minutes until death

He couldn’t help be crave another cigarette to smoke


He lit another cigarette and smoked

He dropped it on the floor and let a fire start and that was the end.

He now knew that his death

Was near but he was okay, he knew he could take it as the calendar

Dropped from his wall just as the branch

Had hit the ground, an image that would be his last memory


The calendar

Burned up into pieces as Nathaniel would soon burn as well turning dead as a branch

Without any friends and family to keep him in memory

Adam Kushner

Originally appeared in the 2009-2010 edition of Outside In.