I Can Smell The Cigarettes by Callum E. Lee
you told me you didn’t smoke
as the coldness of November clambers in
to haunt your old room
and sit beside me on the jaundiced satin of the duvet,
thin and supple as newborn skin.
I let the residue of silence rest on, unperforated,
a tacky internal hum that tides
in and out of my ear with my blood flow and scores this moment,
the intimacy of me and your absence
and the dust that glitters past the sleeve of sunset elbowing through drawn curtains.
let me throw open the bruised light
and feel its hands cover
my mouth and pin me down,
this grief that holds me
in its deep shape like water
as the day bleeds on, unaffected.
the whisper of rain on the window finally punctuates this late afternoon,
draped amidst the freckling of occasional birds across the horizon
before they are swallowed whole,
tucked away in the clavicles of the stratus clouds
that rake their breathy cornrows across the vista,
a stretch-marked sky that gates me in
from your infinity
and reminds me that my wet ache is tiny and fleeting.
I watch the evening rust away its penny glow
that suffocates the street,
a barely-bitten fruit slowly decomposing into
the night and its acne of stars
that welt and wilt dying light for me to find no peace beneath;
for me to toss and turn and dream of you in,
hoping tomorrow will finally bookmark the disaster from the aftermath.
every morning I rescue my body from your face
in its watery shimmer of memory
and wake to myriad texts,
“you know you can always talk to me”,
but how can I talk when the taste of your name
still floods my mouth like blood?
dilute and metallic,
a rusted coin at the base of my tongue,
each syllable simmers and gleams in the throat’s melting pot,
leaving the bittersweetness of a raspberry.
how can I change the subject when memories constellate in
the small sky of my winter breath?
your presence filling like second-hand smoke,
to breathe in and to soak deep
in some hollow of the chest
I can’t quite locate,
to grow lighter and lighter until you simmer away
into your sweet unwaking once more
and leave me down here, an empty urn
dreaming of ash.
Callum E Lee, born 1996, is a poet, Sagittarius and die-hard Phoebe Bridgers fan from South Lanarkshire, Scotland with a concentrated interest in the themes of identity, sexuality, mental health and relationships in the age of social media