A Poem by Coty Poynter
Outside, standing on the porch
of a house that is not his home,
he lights a cigarette.
Allows himself to indulge
in the burning sensation
as smoke floods his lungs.
It had been a hard fall,
and an even longer winter.
Snow coats the ground
as he watches the smoke swirl
and disappear in the cold air.
The gray haze of distance
reminded him of the past.
The time she told him that she
could not be with him;
did not love him.
He tried to convince himself
that it did not matter, but he knew
the lie for the lie it was.
He tried to reason that he
didn’t fall in love with her that night
months before, when she skipped her way
back into her bedroom after she showered.
Or when she kissed him upside down on her bed.
Or when the sound of soft morning rain and the scent of spring
filled the bedroom as they lay, her head
on his shoulder, in the crook of his neck,
their hands folded together, one over the other,
morning fog veiled the city, deepening the strange quiet
that settled over it. They talked in hushed voices
as if afraid to disturb what had formed between them.
He thought his feelings were a symptom of loneliness.
But by now he was well-versed in the art
of being alone, reading book after book
on how to be and came to learn this was not true.
He knew he was in trouble
as he thought about that last morning
In time, the memory would become
a dream before fading into a distant echo.
One day, he would forget about it, but
the love felt would remain in her absence.
He takes a deep breath and allows the burn
to spread as the falling snow
melts against his skin.