You were the kind of dazzling I wouldn't have noticed
(because, let's face it, you were out of my league),
but something about that shimmer in your eyes
told me more than the booze or the laugh did.
From just a look, I wanted to know you—
what made your shoulders quake with humor,
why you bit your bottom lip to suppress a smile,
how you could stand out in a crowd without trying—
because you were a mystery to solve in pieces.
But on another level I thought I could see
the inner workings of what drove that grin,
especially as you lingered in a corner,
far more drawn to solitude than otherwise.
"Wallflower" still didn't suit you exactly,
probably because of your dark eyes' gleam,
and besides we didn't label men that way.
You were new, yet you were the same in a sense
to all my jagged edges that needed shaving.
I wanted to see what you might carve
out of the unfinished clay I still was.
But how could I expect that of a stranger?
I didn't even know your name, yet already
you were rearranging and changing me from afar.
One step and then two and it would be done,
so easy and simple and clean and neat,
and all it would take was a question.
Yet I kept to my own corner, my friends laughing
and cajoling each other to go talk to you,
and they had no idea about you, not really.
They thought you were just another pretty face.
But I knew better (or did I?)—though I wanted
everything to be picture perfect, cinematic,
something we could tell our grandkids.
(Funny, I was already shaping the future
that would be out of reach if I didn't say a word.)
Only when you went outside, ducking into the cold,
did I finally follow you into the alleyway.
You barely looked at me, caught up in your own worries,
even as my heart strummed an unfamiliar beat.
Easy, simple, clean, neat—but, no, I was wrong.
Even just watching your face scrunch, I knew
you were a mess right then, barely holding together.
And what right did I have to make that worse?
The questions died in my throat, all air out of my tires,
as I let the moment slip, a punctuation mark too soon.
You went back into the warmth and noise, retreating,
while the vision of a hundred lifetimes passed.
As I would gray with age and time of a life well-lived,
you would be the one thing I remembered so clearly
because I knew you without saying a word—
before you were gone, a missed chance I would carry
till my dying days gave me a reprieve at last.
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