Not My Cigarettes

It remains there, the pack of Marlboros on our back steps,
as proof of all of our righteousness, our nonsmoking
and our nonthieving. It’s been at least five days.
I looked in the pack one day. Quite a few left.
Some affinity swims in my DNA, but it’s submerged
under memories of yellowed curtains, bloody noses,
the constant fear of losing my mother. I know just
what a cigarette would feel like between my fingers,
the filter end firm yet yielding. But I left them there,
and so did everyone else, the unspoken Hey, are these
your cigarettes? lingering in fall air. Who could ask
such a thing? Would I go upstairs to the mother
of two little boys and ask her if she smokes? Tonight,
I’m doing laundry. I pass them on the way down,
again on the way up — not my cigarettes. Yours?

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