You are not love. You fell short.
You are not hate. You ceased.
But you are a reminder
why indifference is incomplete.

You are not want.
You are not need.
You are a trinket to fancy
the passing glance
the random image
the flash of light
a rumor,
a secret,
a surprise.

You are not the crowded
terminal I’m standing in
with my packed bags
and you are not the bus
that left without me.
You are not the crime scene
I walked away from
and you are not the corpse
on the ME’s table
I’m trying to autopsy
to figure out what went wrong.
You are not the epidemic
and you are not the miracle cure.
You are not the friend
I have on speed dial
and you are not the monster
under my bed.
You are not the storm at sea
I am trying to survive in
with my raft
and you are not the safe shore.

You are not
manifestly important
although you matter
and what I feel for you
is a Vernier caliper for ambiguity
litmus paper for cluelessness.
You are not life and death
to my heart
but you’re in it.

You are a symbol,
an arrow that points to my discomfort.
An eight-fold paper map.
Scribbled instructions,
a photocopied recipe,
barely legible
ink blots viewed
from the orthopedic recliner
in a shrink’s clinic,
“Tell me what you see…”
You are the green, amber and red
glowing in the rainy traffic.
You are the yellow tape that reads
“Police Line Do Not Cross” that
dissuades some and intrigues others.
You are the temperature
of my hospital bed.
You are the name I do not speak
but see everywhere.
You are the critical angle
of my drowning
the precise depth
of my few last breaths.