the symptoms of falling in love

Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Poetry
You've always had a way of sneaking up on me,
lurking in too long glances and "accidental" elbow bumps;
three words on the tip of my tongue
that I can't seem to spit out.

I catch glimpses of you in sideways smiles,
in whispered reassurances,
the loaded silence of small talk,
and taking the long way home on purpose.

Over time you grow brave,
venturing into the catch in my voice,
the feverish bounce of my leg,
an overeager laugh.

Then all at once,
the flushed cheeks
and late night calls
and flustered goodbyes
congeal into meaning as feeling overshadows reason
and the vice of your embrace sets in.

This sudden shift never fails to startle me;
one moment I know everything
and the next you've rearranged me,
picking me apart on the vivisection table
to decide which parts suit you best.

And as I lay there,
unaware of my own dissection until the final moment
I smile
and try as I might
the grin never leaves my face.