I took your wife to triage in the rain,
when she called me several times, out of breath
and cried for your painting, drenched when moving—
how the colors streaked the canvas like tears.
I cupped my hands around our cigarettes
and leaned in, to the smell of sulfur on the wind
and tasted the smoke in the throat of that wind
and was joyous, for just a moment, in the blurred impressionistic rain.
Gray men saluted me with their cigarettes.
Nurses waited to give blood or breath.
A missing dog was mourned, by a child swollen with tears.
I tried to blur them out, as if they were only shadows, moving
in the high branches of trees, but they were moving
like limbs or arms reach up. The wind
must shake the last vision she has of you, holding back tears,
endless trains pulling away in the shabby rain.
Your voice hangs in the air between us, like the cold breath
that circles, at the warming door of cocktails and cigarettes
and haunts your studio with the sick stench of cigarettes,
where I sit for hours, eyes closed, and listen without moving
to voices in France; the swirling black breath
of boys lingers, then hangs itself on the wind.
I inhale a helmet-full of piss and rain
and afterwards, look for you through my tears
and see your open eyes, forever through with tears
and turn away when the others ask for cigarettes,
to stick my face above the trench and blur it with rain
I see across from me, the top of your child's helmet moving,
when we were boys, making bullets sound like wind.
You roll to the ground, smile, and gasp for breath.
She goes away from the gurneys of last breath
and my face feels the sting of her tears.
I wrap her chill in my overcoat, tattered by the wind.
The hotel room smells of an eternity of cigarettes.
I go into her body and feel you moving
away from us, as if dying beneath mud and rain.
When she left me in the rain, cold air joined our breath
and billowed away, moving far from our tears.
The earthy smell of cigarettes still sweetens the wind.