William L. Alton

Home | The Last Issue | Submissions | Achieve: 2004-2009 | Essays

William L. Alton has published work in The Poet’s Canvas, Red River Review, The Oklahoma Review, Whalelane and Amarillo Bay.



Sunday Afternoon


Mom sits in her kitchen with her cigarettes and her coffee and her book. It is her day off and she has nothing to do, so she sits in her kitchen, quietly. Everything smells of dust and the tar the asphalt spits up into the heat. Shirtless kids poke at it with sticks, clumsy attempts at art drawn out on concrete curbs. I can’t move. The day is too heavy. Even the flies are slow in their circles. I sit in the kitchen and I’m quiet. I watch Mom smoke and read her mysteries. I watch the way her hands hurt when she lifts the coffee cup, two fingers folded around the handle. Sadness has settled in the dark skin around her eyes. She bites off chunks of smoke and waves the cloud into ribbons with her bony, baba yaga hands. Cigarettes wrinkle her face up, pulled it down in folds and frowning pouches. Thin, black hair hangs dull, graying in streaks. She sighs and lights another cigarette because tomorrow she has to work but right now she sits in her kitchen with her mysteries.