Seaweed

Cigarette smoke has an aftertaste like

roasted seaweed.

It doesn’t go away even when you spit,

even when you eat icebreaker mints.

I didn’t think I would ever know

what cigarette smoke tastes like,

but I do now – it’s like seaweed.

And it coats the roof of your mouth

and the back of your throat.

It lingers on your tongue

the way the smell lingers

on your sweater. Perfume

doesn’t make the smell go away,

by the way, the two smells just mix

together and they become bittersweet –

like rose and rusted copper –

and you wonder if anyone else

can smell the copper on your collar.

I took off my sweater the first time,

just in case. Because no one can taste

the seaweed on your tongue,

but they can smell it on your clothes

because it’s so strong

it’s almost a different color.

And God knows what’ll happen

if they smell it on my clothes.