have become a matter
of deciding how
much I want to hurt.

I’m not deciding

who to be with based on the long
term or envisioning doves and bells.

Instead I think
how long do I stay?
how much do I let myself feel
How many pieces of my heart
am I willing to lose
this time?

Those are the questions I ask
when I start to feel.

I decide with that first eye contact
that first look
that first flutter of stomach
and tingle of spine
how much risk
that flutter
that tingle
will lead to

swoop of stomach
when I hear the first lie
tightness of chest
at the first unkind word
not being able to breathe
for fear of the loss

small cuts on my heart
with each reduced touch

each withdrawn word
each redirected look.

Completely unexpected
I wasn’t even sure I remembered
what you looked like

but there you were
with your eyes that
met mine with slight hesitation.

Your smile, dimpling your cheeks
and summoning an answering curve
of my lips

even though I hadn’t heard from  you
For weeks

or thought of you

for days
and even though your name
and texts don’t live in my phone

Moments with you–
there really weren’t many–
slipping in and out of my mind
elusive as the cigarette smoke
on the night we met.

As I look at you
and your hesitating eyes
I hear the question:
How much
do I want to hurt
this time?

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