The Cheater

by Rachel
We talked about the end of the world one day.
She said "I like to believe in a dream--
that the last expression will be the sad smile
of someone gentle, on a rainy day.
Someone will understand why it was this way.
I guess I'm an optimist, at heart."

In time we talk about other things; 
she shows me pieces of a world she's building 
by herself, for herself, and of herself. 
Talk about planting your own garden! 
I think she could walk away from anything now.
Crazy in love with herself, and so fortified,
a softly curving bomb shelter in blue jeans.

I ask her the obvious question. If there's pain,
she covers it well--I doubt it's even there.
She talks about the power of positive thinking,
trials by fire, the first time she liked the girl
she saw in the mirror. And I think she's strong enough.
She's a tower, after all, the star I steer by at night.
That's when I tell her what she needs to know about.

Cathedrals must be shaking, dust pervading the city.
And what's terrifying is the way I can't see it,
the way she can sit quietly and listen to all those
voices screaming behind the walls of her cheekbones.
But she stands too carefully, speaks in quiet absolutes,
and leaves me wondering how a tower can move so fast.
Perhaps what drew me to the other woman in the first place
was her vulnerability, the way she was always so moved
by the little things.