for Maxine

When I see my friend’s little girl
in the produce aisle, she beams, “I’m happy.
I have new red tights and a boyfriend!”
We’re standing between the twin peaks
of apples and tomatoes,
light shining off their taut skins.

She does not know
that she will spend her whole life
at the mercy of the opening and closing
of the delicate mechanism of her heart.

Just this morning, I ran into an old lover.
When he kissed my cheek,
I inhaled his scent and was thrown
back to a time when all we wanted
was to fit completely inside each other’s bodies,

something we took as seriously as engineers
contemplating how to land a rocket
on a moon of Jupiter.
And sometimes we succeeded,
and for a moment
the universe seemed to balance
on a fulcrum, the slight wobble
of the earth’s orbit steadied.

How loyal the heart is, a stray dog.
Today, when my ex turned and walked
into the crowd, all I could do
was stand and watch
as mine trotted after him
down the long sidewalk.
And then he rounded the corner
and disappeared.