Post image for Poem- Smoke

Poem- Smoke

by Crystal Torres on January 23, 2018

I didn’t want to be a smoker
I wanted to be the smoke
Breathe me in, slowly
Come back for more
I want to be your addiction
the habit you can’t quit
the pleasure you look forward to
again and again and again
Hold two fingers to your mouth
draw the air in between them, slowly
and know it’s not the same
without me
Remember how I felt against your lips
Crave me
I want to be the smoke
filling your thoughts
but you are not a smoker
You have no addictions
You walk away
I become the smoke
fading like memory
When I was in junior high, I had this image of who I wanted to be when I grew up, which was pretty much nothing like me. I had no idea how to become that person, but I was sure that she would be a better person to be. I could picture her, leaning against a wall, outside of the party. I mean, she was totally a part of the party, welcome, popular, but she was just taking a break. I pictured her tall and thin, her hair short and sleek, like her little black dress. She was the kind of woman who people would describe as well-read, and she had definitely been to New York City.

I pictured her with her high heels in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. I think I added the cigarette later. People make me nervous. I used to overcompensate for my anxiety by trying to be funny, entertaining. I liked me more when I was on. I couldn’t hold it there though. It would rapidly intensify, fueled by social anxiety. I was a spaz. Now I try to excuse myself and take care of some sort of responsibility, find some way to be helpful, in the background, a step removed, invisible.

I tried to take up smoking in my teens. I was really bad at it. My lungs totally spaz out when I fill them with smoke. The thing is, smokers can take the time out when they need it. If a smoker steps away from the party, stands alone, quietly, taking slow, deep breaths, that’s fine. It’s cool. If a non-smoker steps away from the party, stands alone, quietly, taking slow, deep breaths, that’s a problem. Everyone and their cousin seems intent on asking what’s wrong. It was worse than being too on.

I smoked cloves for while. They smelled good and there was less pressure to inhale, which I’m really bad at. It wasn’t that I wanted to smoke, so much as I needed to pause, to slow down before I spiraled out into full spaz mode. I still like that image of the well-read woman, who has definitely been to NYC, exhaling animated, art nouveau, tendrils of smoke into a peaceful, starry night. I will never be that woman.

I am here, in this California desert, with my exaggerated curves, my long, wild curls, and my hippie clothes. I am not well-read, and I have never been to New York. I am overwhelming and enthusiastic and I say too much. I am full of foolishness and daydreams and insecurities, and I never could get the hang of smoking. This is just who I am.


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