“The Future” by Evelyn Deshane

The smoke
Billows out
In tiny tendrils
Around your face
As we share
The same air.
I worry about:
Cancer from
Second-hand smoke
Our past lives lived
Inside the tobacco.
I read the leaves like
My grandmother taught me,
Like with tea. Our
Future is too slippery.
I cannot see past
Metastasis & memories
These cigarettes sold
Without checking IDs.
We have the IDs, I swear,
They’re just not
In our real names;
Legal names,
Birth names,
Chosen names,
Dead names galore.
I wonder if that’s what
I’m seeing in the smoke:
A ghost. A holy ghost,
Of the people we
Used to be. Maybe.

We’re too young
In this new skin
But too old to remember
A time without warnings
On cigarette labels: Red-
Open lungs stained black
A fetus with a syndrome
Children with sunken eyes.
Cigarettes cause cancer;
So do over-the-counter
Hormones, ordered online
From Mexico. Yet
Here we are, with
Bumps on our thighs
And asses from needles.
I’m okay with one death,
Apparently, but not
With another.

You hum as my lips
Feel your neck, thickening
With an Adam’s apple
You’re growing from new seeds.
I disappear into you, our smells
Holy new. I wonder about
The weekend we spent
Booking surgery in Montreal;
In French, orgasm translates to
Little death. I wonder about
Our small death inside
one another’s cells, inside
One another’s mouths.

My voice is too thick
To care. My chest too hairy
To let it all go. Quickly,
The thought of mortality
Rises and then falls down
My spine and my mind
As your tongue traces
The same pattern. I come
In a new way; in a new
Language, with a nice vice.
I am a new person here
And in six months, in
Montreal, we will complete
The circuit trip of surgery.
We will become
one another’s Mobius strips
with scars that match.

So I continue to smoke
The clock down
I continue to die
None the wiser
And fully known.


Evelyn Deshane’s creative and nonfiction work has appeared in Plenitude Magazine, Briarpatch Magazine, Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, and Bitch Magazine, among other publications. Evelyn (pron. Eve-a-lyn) received an MA from Trent University and is currently completing a PhD at the University of Waterloo. Evelyn’s most recent project #Trans is an edited collection about transgender and nonbinary identity online. Visit evedeshane.wordpress.com for more info.