After He Did What He Was Always Gonna Do

He pushes her away
just in time to save
himself, then flees sweating
onto the treadmill,
and room after room, city upon city,
sky atop sky, flower overhead,
and his shining glasses reflect
his favorite hallucinations.

Another close call,
he thinks cheerfully,
congratulating himself for his part
in this perfectly reasonable and mutually
correct break-up. What form! What
finesse! See how flawless the fracture,
how intellectual the incision: he appears
unhurt. It seems he’s drawn back
just as the teeth meshed closed,
before he felt too much
and toppled screaming
into twoness.

But when he gets home
it’s five a.m.
and he’s alone,
really alone,
with no way out. He prepares for bed
gravely, considering her bra:
how to return it
without disturbing her?
Should he mail it?

Listening to leaves conversing,
he recollects her rumpled silhouette
smoking an apologetic cigarette
after another ten-hour adventure
through their heads. They slept braided,
and in the morning she completed the room
with her puns and sly laughter. He remembers
the party they’d ignored for each other,
and the bookshelves in her brain.
Kneeling by her on the canal:
how she’d blushed so lightly.
No more kissing for too long,
or mouthfuls of wine
the morning after.
No more fun together, no
more fear. The last looks
have been exchanged;
first the wrenching,
now the estrangement.

He started another fire
and rescued only himself.

Wanting something he can’t name,
he seeks it outside in the warm morning
where wind bounces through streets
unburdened by other people,
and birdshouts slice a sky
juicy as cerulean melon
over haggard lindens swooning in a row
before the ghostly beauty of a sickly willow
draped in sequined swaths of sunlight.

Basking in the manic-
depressive shadows
of the dying trees,
in the all-encompassing shadow
of the dying world,
he can’t keep
his awful smile
away.