neither the flame shall singe your fingers
nor the smoke cloud your lungs
nor the flame burn your lips
nor the smoke blacken your breath
nor the flame melt your skin
nor the smoke rot your body
nor the flame consume the world
nor the smoke wave its banner to the dead
nor singe nor burn nor melt nor consume
nor cloud nor blacken nor rot nor wave
The only sign, this: the yellow tips of two of your fingers,
the mark of habit, of compulsion, of identity, of Cain.
Here is your point of departure, here your journey's end.
Here is your portable home, and here the continuous you.