by John Grey

It was tough at first, she tells me -
headaches, binge-eating, irritability,
but eventually freedom from the weed.
No more addiction, she says.
No more cancer sticks.
If she had a cigarette now,
it would taste like a mechanic's cleaning rag.

She spends a half hour or more
praising the color of her lungs.
the ease of her breathing.
even the whiteness of her teeth
and the faded nicotine stains
on her apartment's ceiling.
She sees herself as a heroine,
as someone she can admire.
This is when I'm still going through
a period of debilitating depression.
I'm jealous in a way.
There's nothing I can quit.
Unless self-pity is a kind of compulsion.

She smiles and takes in the air
like someone newly released from prison.
Her exhilaration is a vow
to never go back behind those bars.
But, in a way, her new found happiness
is one more downer for me.

I'm thinking maybe I should take up smoking.
Not for the pleasure
but as something to compare me to.

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