“Sharing a Smoke after Work”

Her red lipstick lips stretch like dilation when she smiles, their wideness between coughs a birthing of something he wishes to hold, to cradle and sing to—something that will spit and puke and leave stains. When they embrace, her ashes sprinkle the back of his coat, ashes he imagines are burning holes in the layers of his skin. He understands this burning as a gift, like the scarf from an ex he still wears every day. He is thankful for the burning, for the red marks now part of him, for the moments he stands downwind to internalize her smoky exhalations through his nose, holding them in his lungs until it’s time to inhale the next of her breaths.

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About Marlin Jenkins

Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His writings have been given homes by Midwestern Gothic, Oyez Review, Split Lip Magazine, Old Northwest Review, and Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart (FreezeRay Press, 2015), among others. You can find him online at marlinmjenkins.tumblr.com and @Marlin_Poet.