Bridget Gage-Dixon

On the front seat of his father’s Chevy

I slid that cigarette between my lips.

He drew the lighter from his jeans,

rolled a thumb across the notched barrel,

and brought the flame to me.

His hand fumbling up my thigh,

I arched my back the way

I’d seen it done in movies I watched

while my parents slept. Even then,

struggling not to cough as smoke

slid over my tongue, down my throat,

I would not have called it love.

I only cared how long I could

hold that breath before it would

slide back out, leaving me dizzy

with the poison of it. His smoke

spun out smoothly, spread across

the sagging cloth ceiling over our heads,

each small circle he exhaled hanging there,

signals neither of us could read.

Bridget Gage-Dixon is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. Her work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Poet Lore, Margie, The Cortland Review, as well as several other journals. She lives in central New Jersey where she teaches English and Humanities as well as engaging in daily power struggles with her own teenagers.

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