Fight or Flight
We do what we can to protect ourselves.
I thought I knew you best until the day
you told me you were leaving, and it
was the first time I thought my heart
might pound out of my chest, the panic
rising, making it feel like I couldn’t breathe.
you said you were done, ready to move on,
and I couldn’t believe these were words
trailing from a mouth I knew so well,
from a face with bright green eyes that
I believed had spoken to me alone.
we lie to ourselves and try not to see
the signs as they unravel before us,
and I should have known from the way
your eyes no longer crinkled in affection
when you looked at me each passing day.
even now, I think of you and feel such
white-hot pain that sears through me
as if I’m dying or drowning inside-out,
and I know I should have been the one
to leave first, to avoid all this fresh pain.
it’s been a month, and I imagine if I saw
you in the grocery store or at the gas station
I would turn and run the other way before
I would ever look your way and remember
just how safe and warm you made me feel.
maybe I’m a coward, a bird itching for flight,
but I won’t say I’m sorry to you when you
did the leaving, the breaking, the hurting—
all for a life without me in it, a world where
it’s as if you and I never even happened.