the passing of the clock seemed irrelevant back then
when it was twilight, and we trudged
gently, hand in hand, through the trees
towards a trail I’d never crossed before.
you kept asking me why my hands always shake, and
I answered with a cigarette that you needed to light.
I only smoked with you to keep time-
six minutes pass. still I’m all
bleary-eyed and swollen tongued,
so I light one more. slowed enough, now,
to spark the match myself.
now seven minutes tick by and I feel a sense of
security, suddenly, in the way your fingers
tap along my knuckles, pressing like you’re
running your hands along the wall of a dark hallway,
feeling for a hollowed-out space
or a door handle, anything to find your way
three cigarettes later and I stopped counting the minutes.
no longer watching the pines swirl, no longer
catapulted down a drain alongside them,
but steadied enough to notice the subtle hollows
in your own eyes,
vacant smile lines and bluish hues
that spelled out a suffering your mouth would
I’m in the pines, again,
empty-handed and dry,
feeling along the ridges our footprints
in search of the fault line, the remnant of your final notice
that should have been here all along.
I thought we’d been here days ago-
autumn came and took her leave,
but the scenery is still viscerally the same.
the wind and cigarette ashes told me you’ve been
back to our old stomping grounds, too,
but I can’t bring myself to stay too long
not when I can’t keep track of how many minutes,
or weeks, or days it’s been
since the last hazy meeting
for you and I.