The first time we spoke
you approached me after our class critique
of illuminated letters.
Wowed you were by my velvety black lettering
by my gilded William Morris grapevines
by my lush Gustav Klimt flowers.
I saw a flicker of attraction
behind your brown gaze
but your eyes met mine straight across
when I preferred guys to look down on me.
I thought, What if I get fat again?
You’d be Jack Sprat and I’d be your portly wife.
No, I drew the line right then:
We’d only be friends.
Besides, just that month
I’d sailed over the moon
with my husband-to-be.
When you switched seats to move closer
you consumed my boyfriend stories
like manna from the heavens.
On an April class trip to a design studio
you drank in my talk of wedding plans
as we ate lunch at a cheap buffet.
Though dizzy in love
I picked up on first-date vibes
and I worried about wrong impressions.
After our next class, you spoke with odd emphasis:
“You need to see my sketchbook.”
So naïve, I thought you would showcase
a new drawing technique.
Two days later you held the black book
like a Christmas morning surprise.
“I can’t wait for you to see,” you gushed
as you thrust it toward me.
Your amazing talent left me breathless
as I viewed your perfect magazine models.
At the end of the Victoria’s Secret parade
I saw my mirror image in pencil:
my yellow Gap v-neck and faded jeans
my head ducked and hands in back pockets
my shy, unassuming smile.
Page after page of my profile, my hair, my eyes
lovingly rendered from memory.
You willed me to reciprocate your gaze.
But I kept my eyes down
trying not to crush your heart
so exposed on paper.
“They’re good,” I almost whispered
as I returned the book
careful not to touch your masterful hands.