Bought a Pack of Cigarettes Today

a poem by Nicelle Davis

At this distance, street lamps are reduced to strands of Christmas

lights strung between windows

where televisions are erupting like fireworks from the eyeholes of

track homes. A lit cigarette reflects

as a birthday candle off the surface of my windshield. Fighter jets

pass as the slowest moving stars-their

engines low moans-loud as breath in my ear. A semi-truck passes

as a streak of light chasing flight. Beneath me, red

ants are carrying the body of a black ant to their underground city.

If  I didn’t know hunger, I would think they were leading a funeral

 

procession-if I didn’t know limitation-I would think the world

was in celebration of loss.  It is

 

cold. Tonight. Please. Let me clarify.

 

I’m in an empty lot-next to a suburban neighborhood-alone

leaving you-

that is-three vacancies placed next to a thousand homes. When

 

I say

 

“a” cigarette, I mean “mine.”       When I say “my”

windshield, I mean “the car’s.”

There is distinction in ownership.

 

Guilt belongs to me. You gave me HPV, but I took it willingly-

wanting to believe in the religious alchemy of becoming one

flesh-put on cancer like relief. Impossible. Love. For me. There are

places in the sky untouched by shine. And this is what I focus on.

But must search for these rare absences between structures made

for together. Looking for dark

 

I catch sight of a couple making love in an upstairs window. The wind

is a torrent; I am wet from its intangible hands on my thighs. We are

 

done with each other. I recognize. I drove this far out of town to hide

from our son that sometimes I choose cigarettes over tofu and sit-ups.

 

I understand my mother better at moments like these-know how she

could drag the body of a deer under her car for miles, because she had to

get away and needed all her available concentration to obey the directives

of traffic signals.

 

Stop. Go. Slow.

 

I imagine the naked man in the window is being given direction. I have

nowhere to go. Tonight is your turn with our family. Ours is a separate

matter. You tell me I’m leaving too fast. I say,

I can’t think right with the pain of my own teeth at my hands. I need to

 

stop eating cancer-

need to read books about spiders saving pigs to my son-

need to stop dragging a corpse every time I search for

a place to be. Quiet night. Birds

 

are sleeping in their twig cages built from the down of other birds. Harvested

from bones. Their chicks blanketed in another’s insulation. I long for

 

the friendship of morning, to see its red currents seeping through my closed

eyes. To see myself divide. To have my shadow self-

proportioned as a little girl with giant arms reaching for warmth. Again. I wish

 

to make comrades of variance. Light and shadow never stop touching. Again.

I flip a lucky. Spit the yoke of mucus. Wonder if this leaving will ever end.

 

 Nicelle Davis lives in Southern California with her son J.J. Her poems are forthcoming in, The New York Quarterly, PANK, Two Review, and others. She’d like to acknowledge her poetry family at the University of California, Riverside and Antelope Valley Community College. She runs a free online poetry workshop at: http://nicelledavis.wordpress.com/.
Check out Poetry Editor Tania Pryputniewicz’s interview with Nicelle Davis on She Writes as well as earlier work we ran by Nicelle, From What I Understand About Quilting on ectopic pregnancy.

 
 
 

 

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