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At St. Phillip

Sweat was sprinkled on your cheeks,
round and flushed,
and reflecting light from the stainless steel ovens
across the counter from where we sat,

Surrounded by black-shirted chefs,
affectionately laying mounds
of arugula and pine nuts
on round white plates.

You used them,
in between bites of roasted carrot,
as a distraction,
so you didn’t have to look at me,

While you described how you were going to ruin
whatever it was that we had,
at a time yet to be determined,
in a way you had yet to imagine.

You stabbed at an unsuspecting clump
of sunflower sprouts, forcing them to listen,
as you listed each of your flaws and fears,
in etched detail.

Next to you, I appeared to be listening, too,
finishing a slice of pizza with garlic cloves,
dutifully weighing options, running numbers,
analyzing risks, taking notes.

But I was secretly bubbling over
with desire for each item on your list,
which, like the sugar spots on a fig,
hinted at pleasure, wrapped in imperfection.

And when we finally kissed, in the moist heat of the kitchen,
I was plumbing the messes left by others,
and ready for whatever new messes
we’d inevitably make.

Final Stimulation

Unhealthy Relationship