In the fall semester
when you saw my sparkly diamond ring
your congratulations sounded hollow
as you clenched your jaw.
Yet you sat across from me
every day, sharing bits and pieces
of your life in conversation.
We illustrated autumn produce:
yours striped squash, mine pomegranate.
When I split mine open to draw the inside
you marveled at the chiseled seeds.
“Try one,” I encouraged, sprinkling a careful
few into your hand, and with the first taste
your face soured at the tartness I adore.
Then I laughed while you spat them out.
One day my fiancé met me at the door.
Upon introduction you both
became bulldogs defending territory
but he reigned as king
with his casual nod.
I chuckled inside and listened
for your low growls.
A few weeks before my wedding
the teacher addressed the whole class
pointing out the creative energy
that zinged between us.
While she spoke I chanced a look
to gauge your response
and in a moment’s flicker
I saw your smoldering desire
and my heart broke for you
because you still tended the fire.
After the wedding
I returned to the drawing table
wondering if we’d still be friends.
You said “Congrats” with a tight smile
and I knew your ashes
weren’t yet cool.