Deciding Whether to Stop

I

 

Nothing cuts me worse than unexpected jealousy.

Banal jealousy is one thing

            it’s familiar

like watching you hold hands with your tramp girlfriend,

for example.

           I knew about her already.

Uninvited green is worse because it’s a game

           that I always lose.

Like when you let your phone ring,

           and ring

                      and ring

because it’s the only way I can get in touch with you when I want you

and I’m unused to wanting someone back.

 

II

           I can’t tell if I’m being cheated or not.

                                 I am the one who benefits from your warmth

both in body and in heart

                      But I am the sole sufferer of your absence

           even when I sleep I can’t stop thinking

                                            about what you’re thinking.

What are you thinking?

                                            I must be obedient to rules of private and public:

                                                       I become invisible to you

                                                                                        on the bus

           and you’re determined to stare over my head when you pass

                                 to avoid her suspicion

                                                     In public, not even your eyes explore my skin.

I know you’re scared

                                 of your tangle with her

           and I fear that I overestimate

                                                                  my importance to you.

                      I know

                                 it makes you nervous when I feel;

           I’m nervous when I feel.

 

III

 

You changed my expectations of men

and their tendency

to leave me

after satiation.

You refused to build me

but you encouraged my floor plans

and said I could put whatever

sculpture I wanted

in the lobby.

And the day you first held me in your arms

I cried

because no man had ever asked if I liked it

           when I finished.

 

IV

 

The answer is: I don’t know.

Maybe if you would remember me more often.

Maybe if you would appreciate my notes

           even if you hate them.

Maybe if you would give in to smiling.

Maybe if you would not ask jarring questions like

I’m going to break your heart, aren’t I?”

           I’m your extra girl

but I don’t want to always play second fiddle, so

Maybe if every time I see you with her

purposefully oblivious to my existence

           you could call afterward

so I remember that I’m your partner, too.

Maybe if you’d remember that it’s her we’re to keep in the dark,

           not me.

Maybe if I hadn’t gleefully retreated from my morals

Maybe if I hadn’t given in that last time

because you smelled so good. It’s just that

           I didn’t expect you.

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