Holy Smoke

I only smoke so I can remember you forty times a day. My first one was from the packet you left on our bedside table, the morning you left. It was a seemingly unconscious decision, to breathe you in through tobacco and paper. You'd left your Zippo on the mantelpiece, completely out of character. That lighter belonged to your grandfather, you told me. You couldn't bear to part with it. At every opportunity, you'd flick it out of your pocket, to see if you could light it first time like your grandfather did. Then you'd watch the flame until your fingers burnt.

You'd come in cold at night, after nipping out into the yard for a quick smoke, and come in to curl up in bed, putting your feet on my back to warm yourself up. After a while, you'd simply wrap your legs around me and hold me tight, like you never wanted to let me go. Your breath would still be metallic and nicotine-scented. I hated that smell. It was inescapable and cloying. But now I can taste your mouth in mine, so I don't mind so much anymore.

I only smoke so I can remember you forty times a day. There's the cigarette at breakfast, after a few sips of coffee and a bit of toast, then another one in the car on the way to work. That's followed by intermittent fags throughout the day, when my insides die suddenly and I need a piece of you to pull me through. Then a few at lunch in the pub, and some more on the fire escape. It always made me laugh that it was the fire escape where one has to have a cigarette. 'Where there's smoke there's fire,' I suppose.

You wouldn't smoke on the way home, since Julie from finance would get a lift with you, and since she's pregnant it's just not right to smoke. You'd come in the door and smile and kiss me, put your stuff down, and then dash back outside to have another fag. Then you'd merely smoke at your leisure, always outside or with a window open at least.

I only smoke so I can remember you forty times a day. I'm not addicted; I could kick the habit any time I want. I just I don't want to, because every filter has your name on it and every puff of smoke makes a picture of your face. My fingers are the same yellow as yours. I'm breathless all the time, and I don't know if that's the cigarettes or the heartbreak. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.

You'd think that you'd have put me off of cigarettes. The stink of old bingo hall…the money wasted…the wrinkles around your mouth, forever puckered around a cig like a dry kiss. Your kisses were never dry for me, and as long as you were kissing me I felt warm, safe, invincible…I could bear the yellow teeth, because they made up your smile, I could bear the bad breath because you were breathing into me. I could've lived through anything. But you couldn't.

I only smoke so I can remember you forty times a day. It's giving me the same skin, same breath, same cough, same disease. I feel like I'm dying in your arms, I'm putting my lungs in your hands and your soul between my finger tips. Your spirit is smoke.