becoming a smoker by Emily Gustafson

i don’t smoke but sometimes i wish i did
it would be nice to have something to do with my hands
that wasn’t a violence.
in a bar the other night a man came up to my friend
and tried to kiss her with his fist latched on her shoulder
and i stuck my nails in his face like claws and told him to
leave. which i am proud of, you know,
but what a reminder of the predators we are, all of us.
i could tell you i am not a violent woman but i am.
it’s right there, sewn into my flesh and realized in the
strength of even my slenderest bones, my fingers built
for clutching and tearing and ripping and lord i can hide
behind manicures and rings but i am blueprinted like a raptor, like a bear.
so i wish i would smoke
that’s a violence only unto myself
a slow grey invisible death
a deliberation with the reaper
not a bright red impulse whose grip
i can never shake.