Twenty-Five Feet Away

Can’t you stop?
Another break for a smoke,
just a few a day, every day.
Another pack-year added,
year of life subtracted
Are you finally done?
Quitting again. Trying hard.
Kicking the habit in a moment of clarity–
a firm resolution.

But it’s on your shirt. The cigarette smoke
has woven its way into your lungs
damaging and scouring the cilia,
hastening the dysplasia
wasting away the original cells
the ones that gave you filtered, beautiful clear air.

Trading one addiction for another,
this is better
this is safer
you may live longer
you can think clearly,
but can you breathe deeply?

I’m happy you’re here
alive and optimistic.
But I’m supposed to advise you
warn you
give you statistics
that will make you anxious,
make you worried,
make you smoke,
all we want is for you to quit

Am I helping or hurting?
I love you and want what is best.
cigarette in hand,
twenty-five feet away
next to a girl eating her daily donut
How is that different?
LDL raising,
ischemic attack waiting
she goes unnoticed, even accepted.
Where is the line?

You’re better than ever.
I’m so proud of you.
I look up to you.
Your definition of life
You’re not a statistic or a label
You are my brother.
In the back of my mind
I wonder–for how much longer?

A member of UUSOM Class of 2020. She grew up in southern Utah and in the Bay Area of California. When she’s not studying, she enjoys running outdoors, music, traveling, and spending time with family & friends.