48: Elegy for Smoking

48: Elegy for Smoking

Elegy for Smoking

by Patrick Phillips

It’s not the drug I miss
but all those minutes
we used to steal
outside the library,
under restaurant awnings,
out on porches, by the quiet fields.

And how kind
it used to make us
when we’d laugh
and throw our heads back
and watch the dragon’s breath
float from our mouths,
all ravenous and doomed.

Which is why I quit, of course,
like almost everyone,
and stay inside these days,
staring at my phone,
chewing toothpicks
and figuring the bill,
while out the window
the smokers gather
in their same old constellations,
like memories of ourselves.

Or like the remnants
of some decimated tribe,
come down out of the hills
to tell their stories
in the lightly falling rain—
to be, for a moment, simply there
and nowhere else,
faces glowing
each time they lift to their lips
the little flame. 

“Elegy for Smoking", from ELEGY FOR A BROKEN MACHINE by Patrick Phillips. Copyright © 2017 by Patrick Phillips. Used by permission of Knopf.

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