The third time you came back,
I took you to my bedroom
and let you watch me undress.
I never let you touch me.
You slept beside my naked body
for six hours in the August heat
without once caressing the fine hairs
on my thighs.
I should have known then
attachment was more than skin,
hunger not strictly animal.
I curse myself for chasing your tail
and allowing you to catch mine.
Never could rid your bitters from my blood,
scrape your salt off my tongue.
Your proximity is my conception of euphoria
and everything I know better about
pacifies in your dimpled grin.
We lay across from each other,
hoping reason will surpass compulsion,
sweat out fixation for another two hours.
Letting infatuation, appetite, and obsession
rise to the surface of spotted skin
you are not allowed to touch.
“The Third Time” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).