I knew exactly how to feel. I had done it before.
The knot had tightened in my chest, my stomach rose to meet my throat.
First, the affection surged, and then the pain, both at once
forming a coagulated mass of unrecognizable emotion
that no one has been able to pass along into routine vocabulary.

It was always left unsaid.

One by one, the recollection of sorrows came.
The mass of inaction and the long silences,
the resolute defiance to give and then finally, came the empathy.
It was the last thread by which my hope hung.

And yet, it didn’t.

Because then came the stories, from all the books I had read,
which always pointed towards the kinds of people we could recognize by symptoms:
the ones who would love,
the ones who would leave,
the ones who would betray,
the ones who would stay.

It was the prescription one always ignored.

And then came the reminders I had so neatly lined up;
of what history had proved, of what actions had meant
of what I needed to tell my heart so that it would be quiet.
That people didn’t change, they always became more of themselves.

One hoped against hope. It helped to pass the time.

I shivered at the rustle of the conflict in my chest
and lay down the book I had just finished reading.
I had already guessed how it would end. I had seen the patterns.
We flashed before my eyes and I held back all of us there was to cry.