I spent my winter thinking about you,

And wondering if you were doing the same

I'd stare at my screen for hours, trying to piece you together

From the trail of cookie crumbs I'd found online

I remember the first time I'd stumbled across a picture of you,

The way my eyebrows had jumped as I realized,

"She's pretty."

The thought of you must have latched on like a dandelion seed,

Must have hitch-hiked a ride somewhere in my brain,

A not-entirely-unwelcome stowaway

Over the days you grew

I found myself on your website more often

Dissecting your poems on private browsers

Like an archaeologist examining a square acre

With a toothpick and a brush,

I dug ever deeper into your wording and hidden meanings

I'd be so focused, so lost in the work

That every time I scrolled to the bottom,

I'd be surprised to see your photo

And my stomach would drop each time, because "Damn,

She's pretty."

I found myself lying in bed well past my alarm,

Staring at the ceiling and seeing you

In a café or a bookshop,

I'd sweep you in away by dropping casual hints about all the things

We have in common:

Queerness, swimming, junk food, prescribed drugs

And then maybe you'd invite me over,

You'd open a bottle of wine,

A sappy love song would float in through an open window,

Or crackle over the radio

And you'd invite me to dance – to slow dance,

Something my girlfriend doesn't do

And maybe when my hands are cupping your neck and your hands are around my waist,

Maybe, unwittingly, my thumb might slide along your neck,

Or your thumb might caress the curve of my waist –

Someone would make the first move,

And the other would reciprocate

Our faces would draw closer as if each breath

Was drawing in a fishing line –

Hooked, baited, and sunken

Our lips might dance around each other,

Like magnets that can't decide whether they want to attract or repel

But eventually I'd pull away

"I'm sorry," I'd say,

"I can't do this to my girlfriend."

I'd reach for my things and rush for the door,

You'd come after me and look at me with a sad smile,

You're kind and respectful, so you'd let me go

Or maybe, maybe the impulse would be too strong,

So you'd reach for my hand or my wrist,

Or maybe we'd hung goodbye just a little too long

And I'd stare at you, helpless,

Silently begging you to make the first move

(because at least that way I wouldn't be cheating.)

You'd ask me to speak,

(The irony wouldn't escape me –

We're writers, we should be able to use our words)

And eventually, I'd beg you to

"Kiss me."

The request-command would come out in a hoarse whisper,

I'd barely be able to say it,

But you'd use the opportunity to lunge,

To press yourself against me and drain the pressure from the swelling,

Or maybe you'd hover for a bit before placing your lips against mine,

As gentle as your alabaster skin in your profile picture,

As sweet as your voice sounded that one time we spoke on the phone

(and, in retrospect, you were probably high out of your mind,

And that's why you were so bubbly,

Not because you were interested in mr)

I'd smile, even though I couldn't kiss you back,

Because at least I could linger, and that wouldn't be cheating.

Sometimes, I lay in bed and imagine your hands

Stroking my waist,

Your butterfly kisses trailing from my neck down to my chest,

Landing harder and wetter,

Past my belly button until you

Sink your teeth into my hip bone, bite until I moan

Sometimes I think this but I can't let it show

That I'm with you when I'm with my girlfriend

So I find myself on your site again:

To cure myself of my ailment

By overexposure

Surely the humiliation, the shame of falling

So desperately,

To the point where I'm responsible for 99% of the traffic to your site,

Surely the shame of falling so desperately

For someone I barely know –

But that's the problem: I know you.

I know you because I read the reviews,

Students corroborating my image of you as kind and gentle and encouraging,

But also adding that – to my surprise – you're hilarious

(A new puzzle piece I relish and hold up to the light,

A new piece I fit into my image of you,

A light that, held up to your work upon my umpteenth reading,

Makes your jokes and wit and humor glare like neon)

I know you because when you write

You pour your heart and thoughts and soul and life

Into your work.

So surely when I read your work,

I'm looking through a glass display

Into your heart and thoughts and soul and life.