I used to wear a thin, stripy jacket
always carried a packet
in my pocket, the same one
for over a year, crushed blue paper.

Now, eighteen years later, I buy
Gauloises Lights, in a shiny red carton.
Slowly I open the plastic wrapper
feel for the edge of the strip seal as if liberating

a packet of chocolate biscuits, or a CD.
It unzips transparently, I cradle the smooth,
tightly packed box, ease off the lid
on its white hinge, to reveal the silver foil –

the last line of defence. I tug at the skirt,
it lifts over the sleek thighs of the filter tips –
comes away. Gently I withdraw the length
of a cigarette, its fragrance ripe for lighting.