I stood by your elbow at the front door
While you chatted with our neighbor
Your idle conversation swirled above my head
And an early summer breeze
Lazily tangled with your cigarette smoke
Pulled it through the door's screen
Diced it into little squares
Reassembled it on the other side
Again, and again, and again
A rehearsal of magic

The back and forth
Soothing swell of motherly gossip
Lulled me
As I leaned against you
And you leaned your still young, slim arm
Against the door
The warmth of the sun
And your warm hip
Kept me there for long minutes
Your cigarette ash elongated, stooped
In this shared torpor
As if nodding off
Then broke off

The ash fell on my own arm
I forgot to scream I think
And dumbly stared in wonder
Into the ash's still glowing red center
As if witnessing the delivery
Of a newborn devil

You jumped back
And extinguished it in a slap

Years later
You asked that I pour
The boxed up three pounds
Of your own cool ash
Into your favorite lake
I don't even have that now

Which is why I wish
That cigarette cinder had been brighter, hotter
Burned deeper
To leave behind the shiny cup of a scar
That I could touch, console
While lost in thought

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