I wrapped her exercise book in a plastic cover,

A belated shield for the patchwork stains

and damp riddled corners. 

Saturated in smoke, blue margins 

and lines form a cigarette smile.

How much do her little lungs hold,

If the very pages of her future

are steeped in poison?

I wrapped her exercise book in a plastic cover,

To protect the pride inside 

as it is stifled without. 

The smoker’s guilt weighing heavy

on the off-white shirt cuffs of an eleven year old

who swears she’ll never touch the stuff. 

How much can a cover do,

When it is her blazer and bag too? 

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