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An hourglass between his knucklesHe quit smoking because hedidn’t like the taste of his ownmortality; bitter, brackish, blackas his lungs. Didn’t like the pullof nicotine, ashy fingers,the way a cigarette looked likean hourglass pinched between his knuckles.The ashtray beganto fill up again after his wifedied. Every day at first; an entirepack after her funeral; a boxevery three days; one flickerof light in the evenings spent leaningon the balcony railing,watching the city go by througha veil of smoke and memories.I bought a pack for him once, justto use my ID for something.It’s still sitting on his coffeetable, one cigarette short.
Irreplaceable The man I love enters the bedroomwith tired eyes, he workedtoo long, his glasses are scratched.A picture frame, a brushof knuckles, fingertips, dusty mirror,washcloth. He duststhe vanity, moves the make-up,perfume, lotion, none of it mine,moves it back exactly how it was. I want to shove awayall the cosmetics, all thelayers of lipstick lyinglike dead leaves onthe vanity – the floodof foundation – mountainsof mascara and clustersof concealer crowding, swarmingchalky air coating themirror with her ghost. But he sighs a memory –a bittersweet memory – softas a moth wing – gently enough to catchthe hook under my ribcage. And in the few momentsit takes the man I loveto take off his glasses, fidget,clean and place them backon his nose, I remember how longwe waited for a call, forsome good news: the to an