She Remains Untitled

Glenn Milich

The Lucky Strike chain-smoke obscures her face,
though between drags you see the burnt umber of her eyes
lit from within, twin siblings
of the paper-wrapped coal hanging from her fingertips.

She’s kind of pretty, you guess,
in that pale, dark-haired way,
though it’s hard to tell,
with your eyes watering as they are
from the smoke of your own Marlboro.
Lightheaded, the bare walls circle you,
emotionless birds of prey
ready to close in.

Seeing her lie, legs splayed harlot-style,
upon the tattered mattress,
you wonder why you’ve stayed?
Maybe it’s the numbness you came to justify.
Maybe she’s a stand-in for the tall,
arrogant beauty who laughingly
denies you.

The tobacco on your tongue tastes stale
but putting out the cigarette
would reveal the tremors in your hands.
Smoke it to the filter, you tell yourself.
You owe her that much.
Then leave her, just like everyone else.

You owe her that much.