You left your cigarettes behind so I held onto them
for a while. I didn’t think you’d be back, but
throwing them away meant more than
I could explain. I took my time.
Pulling out one when I thought maybe I was forgetting.
I used your lighter—you left that too. Never felt charming
until I stood on my back porch sucking memories
back to life in the middle of the night.
I’d always let you smoke in bed. I say let, but
that’s misleading—I don’t think I could’ve stopped you
even though I wanted to. It was wonderful, I’ll admit,
lying with my face pressed against your shoulder while
you inhaled gently. The smell would linger; you would not.
My neighbors probably thought I was losing my mind;
a nice girl like me, picking up bad habits all by myself,
but I didn’t care—you taught me how to do that.
Before I tried yours I’d never really caught the taste.
I took them from you and others at parties, but only because
everyone else was doing it. You laughed at my insecurity
while lighting me up. I smiled even though it wasn’t funny.
You wouldn’t laugh now. When someone offers, I tell them, modestly
I used to, but not anymore—it can kill you, you know?
Cetoria Tomberlin is a poet and writer originally from South Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, NonBinary Review, Southern Women’s Review, LADYGUNN, and various other publications.