I’ve heard tell of those who rolled cigars
    in Havana and how they would choose one
    to read each day, the others making up his
    share of the quota so they could hear stories
    that took them beyond the little rooms where
    they rolled leaves for the pleasure of others.

    I live in a town built on the stories of those
    same leaves. Tonight, in one of the rooms
    where they stacked and sold tobacco, I cooked
    dinner for those who had stories of their own
    to share with one another. And I brought
    leaves of my own—basil, fresh and verdant.

    I gently pinched to stem off each leaf, and,
    as I was taught by those who told me kitchen
    stories, I stacked the leaves and rolled them,
    much like the Cubans, I suppose, and then
    sliced across my herb cigar, letting the leaves
    fall in tender strips as the blade rocked

    back and forth, releasing the fresh smell of
    sunshine and friendship. Even on the drive
    home, my hands carried the aroma, the
    smell almost indelibly infused into the
    crevasses of my fingerprints. I breathed
    the story in once more, and then exhaled.



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