He smiles at me with a cold glare like

polished rose granite under the winter sun

and his lips crack into dusty gravelly lines,

curving until I don't know where they end.

I wonder how his tree bark curls can be matted

and beautiful simultaneously, and I wrap

one around my finger with curiosity,

returning his slate smile with more bold

definition between the black and white.

Blinking in the darkness, he tries to tell where

my figure ends and the world begins, but the lines

blur and I become a grainy plastic chair, faux wood

table, dust covered oatmeal color rug. He leans

back, annoyed that I don't give him enough

physical attention, and I get up to move on to

more plot-aware characters:

they light cigarettes and trip up on lies and

do things dangerously like being over the line

is the latest fashion.

He's smiling with someone else but it's twisted, more

like the yellowing curves of burning books.

I can tell he's got the same addiction to page

turning excitement as I do, and I don't blame him.

We glance across the room and read between

the lines, understanding that whatever this could be,

it'll always fade to a grey that looks like ash

dripping monotonously from the cigarette of

one of those characters he wants to be.