You flinched when I touched you
drew back when I patted your head
We hugged without warmth
You looked surprised when I brushed your back.
Devastatingly attractive in your starched men's shirt
I told you I'd missed you and you asked, "Why?"
Groping for an answer -- "I just do" -- you smiled
But the grin was far off, through glass seen,
People made you nervous, and you stared as if
That I'd (gasp) caress you in view of your friends
(subtle coward i, of course, did not dare)
We sat on opposite table-sides, untouching, me
quarantined from your friends
and we talked carefully, formally,
in low voices pretending.
As dinner ended I took my leave,
obvious I should not linger;
but still I draped jacket over arm
instead of wearing it
vainly hoping for a single more intimate moment
away from the friends who draped you in shame.
But only another cold cautious hug was forthcoming
actually two --
the first dropped hastily as someone
passed by in the hall.
I put on my jacket and left
wondering the reasons for your guilt-filled reactions
wondering if I could have always been wrong
if I was the only one stillborn in love.
At home, a new acquaintance
asked for a date.
-- C. Scott Ananian, 13-Apr-2000. 7:40 p.m.