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The day you found me, sprawled out on the ground
With my sticky back pressed into burning gravel,
You told me you were going to quit smoking.
Yet somehow, as you absentmindedly flicked your ashes into my hair
I did not believe you.

I went home and I did not bathe for weeks;
An attempt to keep the tar and soot from your fingers
Tangled in my split ends, hoping they would eventually
Seep into my pink scalp
And crust over my dreams with you.

Each night, I missed your slow exhale
And wondered if your sleep breath was any different
From the way you puffed on your cigarettes.
I would stop tossing in my bed and try to listen,
Hear you from miles away, and synchronize the expansion of our lungs.

I found a half empty pack of Marlboros on the street,
Pocketed them, and kept them in the back of my nightstand drawer.
I prayed the scent did not linger too much
Because I did not want to explain to my mother
That I was not hooked on cigarettes; it was only you.

But it was an unhealthy addiction, all the same.
By the third week, I had convinced myself
That my body would never again fit so perfectly curled
Inside of anyone else’s. Every morning,
I kissed phantom you awake by smelling the old carton.

I did not see until half a year and you were long gone
That we had merely carved a pattern
With the space in between us. We were never meant to touch.
Every time you swore it was over, you bought another pack.
Every time I swore it was over, I called you again.

I never found out if you kept your promise and quit,
But one day, I woke up and dusted every piece of furniture in my house.
I did the laundry twice, polished all the silverware, and mopped the floors.
I scrubbed every inch of the bathroom with a toothbrush and finally
Scraped your nicotine off my skin.



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