That tangy, burnt stench hangs in the air
on the subway, on the street.
It’s everywhere I go:
Clinging to the man with the hat, on that girl’s jacket.
The smell is so familiar, so intoxicating.
Every single time, amidst the smoke
— inhaled and exhaled —
To your chest, where I stole moments of respite.
To your sweater, which I stole in the dead of winter.
To you. The one that stole my eyes and my soul and my heart so many lifetimes ago.
There are ones that came after, others in these eight years since we met.
Others that also sparked and danced and played with fire.
I used to hate it,
that thick smog that announced your entrance before you’re in the room.
But one whiff now, and we’re back in college.
Back to the comfort of your bed where I’d drink in your scent.
Back to the way our lips would meet — furiously, clandestinely.
Back to you and me, back to us.
It’s a familiar sight: a cigarette dangling from the fingers of passerby,
from the corner of their mouths.
You weren’t the only one to light the match, you won’t be the last,
but you were my first.
You ignited me, opened me up, persuaded that fire to spread in my bones.
Then you left me to burn.
• • •