Her smile fragments in my mind,

surfaces in pieces throughout the day, buoyed by her

early-morning words, the image of her hair in the sun.

Her warmth surrounds me as I face you, stammering,

guilt fills me like bile, like dark, congealed blood, and her

I Love You

Echoes in my head as I try so hard not to love you.

You Say The Sweetest Things, I whisper to her

late at night on the phone, then blush

as you compliment my hair.

Her picture on my nightstand, yours behind my eyes

(and oh, the thought of you ever knowing still

petrify-mortify-thrills me and you look at me and I swear you can

See right though)

Her name tattooed on my heart as yours rises to my lips

Something old, something new, being on the edge of both tearing through

Me.

(And then you remember my name and the sun shines a little brighter)

Better? Worse? Heartbreaking and hopeful

the days when she asks about

you.

Tells me I'm beautiful when I'm in love. (I love You, I tell her, and it's not a lie.)

The days when I know that loving her is

half of who I am and the guilt threatens to consume me and she

Smiles and says that it's all okay.

And you, all unknowing mischief, smile too.