Rolling Cigarettes

TW: Emotional Abuse
This is something a little different. I’m sharing a poem I wrote a while ago, that I’ve hesitated on sharing for a while because, well, poetry is a raw nerve for me, and I also don’t consider myself good at it. But here it is.

Days before he left me I turned down his cigarette.
He joked he was corrupting me, and reached to hand me one, pre-rolled, ready for me. He always rolled his own cigarettes.
His scowl when I turned it down is etched in my memory.
That was the day he decided to leave me.

I was madly in love with him and he loved that I was.
We spent hours in his bed with arms wrapped around each other. I laid my head on his bare chest and we’d talk about everything.
At my most vulnerable he’d send out a barb and I’d withdraw my body.
His cold patience triumphed as I returned to his warmth crying and beating on his chest, demanding to know why he said such things.
He luxuriated in refusing me a response.

I remember watching him roll cigarettes while I cried.
How do I say that rolling cigarettes resurrects the worst person to touch me?
He said my name like it tasted foul on his tongue.
How can I say his tongue taints the name my parents gave me?

Calling it an abusive relationship still catches in my throat.
Saying he abused me is easy to spit out; I wish if I could say it enough the venom would pierce his veins.
Calling what we had a relationship I force through my teeth like a lie I don’t want to tell.
My skull is an echo chamber for his insistent words.
“We are nothing, we’ve always been nothing.”

I fear at every step that punishment is right around the corner. Worse than that, I worry that I’ll have deserved it unknowing.
His words within are now resounding with my voice.
I realize I am now torturing myself, long after his interest waned.
He is still sending out barbs, and I’m still returning to his warmth crying and demanding to know why. I desperately want to know why.
I will excise myself to find that the world outside his bedroom is warm.

Mara Passio