I would do it differently, now, again, after this last time that I offered up my messy red heart on a shined silver platter, her name gleaming, freshly engraved. I would not go back to her apartment. I would not accept gifts of wings on a necklace chain when her heart leaps from her chest to my palm – involuntarily – and she forgets to ask for it back. I would keep our courtship in dark bars with indulgent mixed drinks, dance clubs where I stoop to knee-level and come on to every girl with heels higher than three inches.
I would not say ‘I love you’, not eagerly, would not hold the words on my soft palette like a marble, a pearl made from sand, from too much grinding. I got me a mouth guard. A machine to stop the optimism from forming sentences beginning with ‘I have never felt’ and ‘you are so’ and ‘I can’t believe’ and ‘I love.’
If she asked me the state of my heart, I would lie and tell her it is crushed in a vice-grip of regret. Of longing. But really, it is rebounding like a glacial valley, too long crushed by thousands of tons of frozen water, and she was the vice-grip all along.