The Housewarming

David Dayton
1 min readJul 25, 2022
Close-up of old woman exhaling cigarette smoke.
An earlier version of this poem was first published in the little magazine Spectrum.

When we first moved in
we found cigarette
butts everywhere,
columns of flaky ash
marking where the old lady
dropped them,
and then forgot,
or maybe just couldn’t find.

The landlord said
she smoked four or five
packs a day.
She lost her husband
the year before last,
and now she was going blind.

He showed us the chair
that burned up
and several charred
patches on the rug.
What could he do?
He finally talked her
into a rest home
with linoleum floors.

We’ve fixed things up,
painted the kitchen
and tried to get that
icky stain off the wallpaper.
Those blotches of white
with tails are where
the cleaning spray
cut through.

A man from the rest home
came for her things today.
We showed him the black dress
with the note taped
to the hanger that said:
“This is the dress
I want to be buried in.”

So the house is finally ours.
If only it would
give her up.
Whenever we go out,
it’s like the walls and furniture
By the time we get back,
the place reeks again
of stale tobacco.



David Dayton

See Here, you’ll find draft chapters of a memoir and drafts of poems to be published in a book on Amazon.