My heart snaps the first time, as frail as a fish bone,
under the weight, not of your words, but of your silence,
your long silence stretching
in innocent pretense over the days.
I go on, perfectly well,
without the quiet song of a pulse to guide me.
I simply retreat into myself.
And I try a pretense of my own: I play music,
the songs I used to live for,
and I try to remember the subtle risings and fallings of feeling
the notes are supposed to stir in me;
I learn that feelings are impossible to force;
I learn that it's better not to lie to oneself;
there's no crime in becoming better friends with silence.
I sit for long hours by a window in the afternoon,
forcing myself into the sun-bright pages of a book,
even on the days when the heroine's true love
presses his mouth boldly to hers for the first time
and no emotions sweep me away, and all I see
are their hesitant kisses reduced to merciless strings of letters,
and I plod along to the next sentence and the next,
and my eyes do not linger over the delicate turnings of phrase.
Occasionally I submit to the way the world quivers and spills over
and drowns me. But being broken in new places hurts less and less
each time. I build up immunity. The breaking now is delicate,
polite, subdued; something to be expected, endured.
Something slight, of no consequence really.
When it mattered to me, I was lying to myself, I realize now.
We pass in the hallway one day, by chance,
and I can't look you in the eye.
My body trembles, a traitorous creature. I swear
my heart still lies dead to you.
You say a few words, nothing significant;
you slip your hands into your pockets and say you have to go.
Neither of us says goodbye.
You simply fade away into the ambiguous grey
of this life.