Since that time,
I’ve been using a lot of disposable lighters.
The colorful, cheap kind
you can pick up easily almost anywhere.
They burn bright and hot but gas out quick.
That’s okay because they weren’t meant to last.
Things like that never really are.
But today, for the first time in a long time
I refilled the sterling silver Zippo
she gifted me on my birthday.
Running my thumb over the inscription
etched across its dulled surface
those fragments of words
I always said to her.
Sparking a flame,
triggering those old movie reels —
those burning images tattooed
into the dulled surface of myself —
I’d been avoiding using the Zippo
for those very reasons.
Every time I lit up a cigarette — a reminder
had loved me brightly once
but no longer did.
Extinguished. Smothered out.
A Memento Mori that
I was a
piece of shit.
But on my lunch break,
standing in a parking garage,
watching November rain fall grey and black,
lighting a cigarette,
my thumb against those cursive letters again
I realized those were my
words etched on the Zippo.
She’d never uttered them.
It was as though awoken at 3:35 a.m.
holding something in my hands
that my fractured mind had
glued together and
painted over the broken, uglier parts of.
But knowing that truth
and knowing still
no matter who I’m with or
no matter where I am or how old,
I hear a door slammed shut
I will whisper her name in my head.
And accepting that, finally,
I gave this poem
her name because
these are the very last words
I will ever give to her
that will go