Good Girl

Once she handed me
her just-lit cigarette
so she could do

some backyard task.
I was maybe ten
and all my life so far

that totem of the forbidden
blazed all around me
in the mouths of adults.

Smoke clung to my clothes,
gathered on long car rides,
every ash tray overflowing

and the crushed butts,
their foam filters
lipstick smeared,

the softly crumbling ash,
its variations on a theme of gray,
stirred in me a mingled

fascination and revulsion
so even though this once
I was not just permitted but bidden

to touch one, to let its red eye
burn toward my fingertips,
it seemed a breathing thing

and I held it at arm’s length
upright like a torch
so far from my lips

I couldn’t, even for
the smallest of seconds,
be tempted.

April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of two poetry collections—Skin (Texas Tech University Press) and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (Able Muse Press).With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry, an anthology for Penguin Academics. She also is the author of three Young Adult novels, Jane, Catherine, and Love, Lucy, (Poppy), and a digital-exclusive YA novella, Far From Over (NOVL).She teaches writing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

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Author: April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of two poetry collections—Skin (Texas Tech University Press) and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (Able Muse Press). With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry, an anthology for Penguin Academics. She also is the author of three Young Adult novels, Jane, Catherine, and Love, Lucy, (Poppy), and a digital-exclusive YA novella, Far From Over (NOVL). She teaches writing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.