Our whole class stood in the hallway to view a critique
the first day of our last semester
and when you took your normal place beside me
I cut away to the far corner.
Confusion crossed your face
but you didn’t follow me.
When we chose seats
I deliberately picked a table
three rows away.
I pretended to ignore your shock.
My tears welled as you turned your back
because no explanation would satisfy
no matter how careful or kind.
When the twin towers fell
I longed to discuss it with you
at length, the way we talked
before, the way my husband
I missed my friend.
I watched you choose another girl
I cringed at your too-loud laughter
and your dramatic compliments
of her mediocre work.
We lived like miserable exes
still sharing living space
when they can’t afford to separate.
My projects languished while yours flourished.
For our fairy tale illustration
my Cinderella turned out cutesy.
Your Rapunzel was the beautiful Pantene model
in profile, her cascading waves
gently grasped by a strong male hand
in his gallant rescue.
Pent-up desire breathed from the pen-and-ink.
I withheld my compliment
not wishing to salt your wounds
but I yearned for your details:
How are you?
Where are you headed?
Can we part in peace?
The last time I saw you
we stood facing each other
in caps and gowns.
I made eye contact for the first time
in months, offering a small smile
to convey best wishes.
In your look disgust and spite stood
as your broken heart’s bodyguards.
Finally I turned away from your cold stare.