We go over there in the rain:
they hug us smiling at the door
and we enter handing over the wine
and it hits us:
smell of burning brass brake linings
or something caustic and carbonized.
Their house is beautiful:
pastels and art and good taste
and wonderful food
that we can hardly taste:
taste is mainly nasal; we smell food
which here competes with burned tar.
He ducks into the kitchen for a smoke.
I duck out briefly for a gasp of
fresh air: it is raining, cool;
I huddle against the outside near the door
furtive, like a smoker taking a drag
of rejuvenating air.
Inside again, I note the fireplace
is burning merrily gnoshing on oxygen
that I would dearly like to breathe;
Windows are sealed against the weather
I am soon dizzy again.
They both sound hoarse
have little catchy coughs
withered skin, sallow eyes
disappear into another room
at least once per hour.
That night, we both toss in bed
wired by the alien chemicals
in our lungs and bloodstream
fighting for supremacy against
hypochondria and incipient
And see their pouchy eyes.
We ring the doorbell
bundled in scarves and heavy coats . . . .