i. i watch alis across the courtyard she smokes foreign cigarettes i know she buys from that shop on christopher street.
ii. i see her peering out her window that overlooks the common area-- rapt in her examination of me of my world, consumed by the trying to figure it all out.
iii. on clear days, she sits in a wicker chair then tilts it against the wall to protect the seat from bad weather. and on those bad weather days, she stands straight in the doorway, hidden in scarves and an ash grey woolen coat, arm wrapped ‘round her ribs supporting the weight of the cigarette in her opposite hand-- long drag and the smoke drifts out like an afterthought.
iv. i don't like the days of rain and snow when i am confined to the doorway-- furtive as if i were 14 and forced to sneak outside.
v. in my imagination, the smoke carries away her thoughts and ideas while her mind sifts memories and dreams.
vi. i watch her watching me. her small mouth moving as she talks to herself. both of us: wondering..wondering...wondering.
i find it ironic she won't smoke inside-- protecting her possessions from the dark sweet stench of those gauloise while she fills herself with its toxins and poisons and the smoke hovers over her like a halo
viii. she’s knocked on my door peering inside as she asks me some question about the rent or repairs or complaints about the guy in 10F. she doesn’t understand i broke fell into pieces let them scatter. yet those things upstairs? to contaminate them is a sin
ix. she sits and smokes and stares does she filter memories letting her pain act as a nictitating membrane?
x. i close my eyes against the brilliance of her intense regard, her overwhelming curiosity her innocent condemnation of me.
xi. there was one time i saw it all there on her face; past and present and the knowledge her future was written in white on white. she sat still as regret, while the cigarette burned down.
xii. i huff to myself annoyed with her bothered by her the knowledge she is right about me and that i am full of far too many things best left unsaid and i don't move until i feel the heat on my fingers and i again retreat.