Poetry: Almost

There is no language for why
I wanted to stroke your cheek yesterday
When you first arrived at the pub
Friend of a friend, unfamiliar
And promise-full as a new metaphor

Why I noticed the soft flesh
At the V of your T-shirt
The tender Canadian “Eh”
Inflection-propped as I imagined your body might be
Supported by an elbow amid ruffled sheets

Why it felt right for our knees to touch
And stay touching, warmth just short
Of a spark sustaining the connection
As the day lost itself to growing chill

There is no reason, no rhyme
For why I spent all of today smiling
At something more than April sunshine
And the prospect of a drink with you after dinner

When, hearing you mention a boyfriend,
In a parallel universe, another me learns again those
Other things for which we have no words:
Nothing as easy as anger; just the slow wilt
Of waste, desire cooled like a Spring day
Retreating where unbeen chances go to die.

In ours, I learn that sometimes, just feeling
Is enough. I hug you, promise to email and surprise
Myself with a skyward grin at whatever God
Decided this might amuse.

In yet another, another you sits on my hotel bed:
As we talk about planting trees, saving the world,
I start to run my hands through your hair.

-Aaron Maniam, from the Singapore poets edition of Blue Lyra Review

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