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She sits and types
Watching smoke unfurling tenderly,
Translucent wisps
floating heavenward from her fingertips.
She stares in the mirror, but her face
is lost behind a thick cloud
That folds and unfolds and contracts upon itself
until it is, too, lost in space.
She practices blowing smoke rings,
watches the perfect little O's escape from her mouth
like the ghosts of donuts,
While slivers of ash
gray, silver, white, black
Fall like confetti to the floor.
Bit by bit, they pile up over each other,
carpeting the ground with fire's dead remains,
Silent carcasses of Flame's once bright and dancing youth.
Slowly, gradually,
they cover her feet,
Reach her legs, her chest, her neck;
Encase her frozen face,
mouth still petrified in a ring-shaped 'O'.
Again and again
tendrils of flaking white ash flutter down,
Mount higher and higher;
Smother her flat eyes, her brows, the tips of her pixie-cut hair
until there is no sign of the girl,
until she is gone,
Buried alive in the fragile, collapsible graveyard
with all the corpses
of her own smoke.
Janet Li
Published in Issue 32