There are days when she can’t remember
what reasonable is, and isn’t. Like when
she sneaks out of the house at night, sitting
on the back porch, hastily inhaling a cigarette
so fast that one time she almost choked on the smoke.
The rush she feels tiptoeing in the house, her ears
straining to the sound of the floor creaking,
the pipes in this old house groaning without warning.
She slides the door open, hinges are oiled weekly
when no one is home, just for this reason to feel
the winter chill settling in her lungs, spotted
with cancerous growth. A doctor once told her to stop,
Then added, “Fuck, just inhale the mother fuckers.
What’s the point at this point? Smoke one
for me too while you’re at it.” He gave her a wry laugh
and a wicked wink as if he were betraying his own voice
that no one really listened. We all go underground
at night. Him, sneaking to watch porn on the internet, she imagines.
Her, sneaking to meet her vaporous lover slithering
into her lungs and then rising between her lips like a ghost.
A lost recipe for a full life is to live as if it were the last day of your life
unless today is your last day of your life. And then, you just wait
and hope there’s been a terrible clerical mistake made in heaven.
The clock from the church at the end of the street sounds out dawn.
The birds stir from their nests of tough bark and dead grass.
For now, she’s still sitting cross-legged on the icy porch.
For now, an aggregate of loss and futile longings,
like a snowflake’s refusal to evaporate.