Old Habits by Nicole Cier

Four hundred and something days after
and your name digs its way out of my subconscious,
up my throat and past gritted teeth and
bursts onto the pavement, shattering silence.
It feels hazy and half true, talking about a stranger
who knows how my mouth tastes and that I hate
the most particular ordinary things,
like the scream of a tea kettle and polyester.
It reminds me of the cigarettes
I weaned you off of two Januarys ago,
how on longer days now I dig you
out of my pockets and light you up
for relief — but this feeling leaves my lungs
burning twice as much.
I flick the ash off the tip of my tongue,
rid myself of the chain-poking I’ve been doing,
prodding at my memory for any sign you were real,
and kick the longing to the curb in the dust.
Old habits die harder when love dies along with them.

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