Hands and Feet | Madeline Barnhill | Graphite
- on the side of the highway
there was an unattended bonfire
spitting smoke into the otherwise clear sky
and the scent invaded the car through
the vents and the sliver of open window.
it stayed there for miles until you drove
past a farm and the bitter, manure scent of the earth
drove it away.
- his lips dripped from the rain that extinguished
his cigarette and his hair was windswept. he chuckled
an apology and shrugged off his jacket.
when he kissed you, he tasted like smoke.
- you color your eyelids with ashes every morning
and your lips with pomegranate, then tousle your hair
into a hasty side-part to seem uncaring and above it all.
the girl standing next to you on the train has eyes the
color of a polluted sky and she outlines them in smoke
just like you. you want to compliment her on her winged
eyeliner but she pulls out a book and loses herself in it.
- the crisp crack of a stricken match echoes in the
empty room and flame teases your fingertips while
you hold it to the wick and wait for it to light.
the hiss of smoke billows outward in an ominous cloud
and you wave your hand to dispel it; the candle catches
fire silently and you extinguish the match with a puff of air.
- you sit in a circle around a fire pit with your family
and watch your words dance through the frigid air above your head.
the smoke chases you as you shift around the fire to avoid it, filling
your eyes with tears and tickling a cough from your throat
you feel it hit you in a wave of warmth against the chill of autumn
but it has less substance than you’d think. it doesn’t touch you like
water vapor, but it glances across your skin in a dangerous way
and then disappears back into the flame that woke it.