Drops of Jupiter, Part 4: A Broken Guy/Girl Friendship

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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

never enjoyed.

I missed my friend.

I watched you choose another girl

so quickly.

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.

Drops of Jupiter, Part 3: A Broken Guy/Girl Friendship

Winter Sun and Shadow by Robert Vonnoh

Winter Sun and Shadow
by Robert Vonnoh

Your conversation that spring semester

warmed me like the bright sun

on winter afternoons.

Marriage blindsided me

with its onion peels

petty arguments

and unpaid bills.

Our talk became an oasis

in my long days and lonely weekends

while my new husband worked overtime

in his last semester.

May brought fresh hope:

a new apartment

a new job

a new summer session

before December graduation.

We listened to pop music

while we built clay boxes in summer ceramics.

Drops of Jupiter played incessantly:

you hated the line about fried chicken

but I found it playful.

I knew you too well.

I talked more in one day with you

than in a whole week

with my distracted husband.

Our three-hour conversation blocks

chapped me in secret

and my silent frustration escalated.

Dare I disturb our universe?

In the time and space constraint

of that summer session

the teacher fired my memory box lid

intact with the base.

I could view its lovely yellow interior

only if it shattered.

I chose to keep it sealed

rather than destroy

what I’d worked so hard to build.

Drops of Jupiter, Part 2: A Broken Guy/Girl Friendship

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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

uncovered

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.

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