We were close enough you could not imagine
I was out of your reach. I should’ve run I didn’t make it
easier for you. I wasn’t sure what was happening, and then
I was. Maybe you wanted to do it, and couldn’t, but I think
you had to, and you didn’t. Your breath quickened
hardened and your hands dug deeper in your sweatshirt pocket.
You came closer, and like a song I wasn't thinking of,
you fell away from me a bit, and came closer again, balling your fists
in that sweatshirt. Unable at last to pretend
there was anything else happening, I think I was not alone
in doing just that. Your eyes pummeled a hole
clean through the street we walked on, and you filled it
with not hurting me, and then threw a match on that,
and the not hurting went up like dry leaves. We could smell it,
and you filled the hole again, and up it went, until we’d reached
the end of the block. Maybe you wanted to hurt me, and you were afraid.
That wouldn’t change your kindness. That was your fear, earned
somewhere I’ve never been. You don’t mean that much to me.
I mean, I don’t think of you nearly as often as I would have otherwise,
we both know that. But I don’t think anyone
has worked so hard not to hurt me, worked so hard
against their own wanting to hurt.
As though you were saying to do right by myself, I must
punish you, so I can’t do right by myself even if I could.
Or, is there any other weapon against violence but violence?
You were that weapon. As though you were saying,
I’m very upset with you. I am going to kiss your cheek.