"this breakup was apparently just sort of—"
she stops, her eyes drifting down like rain to her fish tacos,
"—I've never had one,
but I think you have,
and the only term I can think of is 'soul-crushing.'"
she nods, satisfied with the word she's assigned it.
"it was a soul-crushing breakup,
and you, more than many,
knows what that's like.
and even though I don't
(not first-hand, anyway),
I feel like I sort of absorbed some of it,
watching her smile fade and her heart scab over,
the light in her eyes,
replaced with rhubarb bitterness.
the worst part is that I don't think she's past it yet,
and I'm not sure what to tell her."
she picks at the cabbage
that fell to the side of her plate,
and I can hear it crunch beneath her fork.
"what was it," she says,
"that got you through your soul-crushing breakup?"
I sip Diet Coke and think back:
this ain't the time for disclosure,
so I make some stupid, half-joking remark about what looked
like it was helping to outside observers:
"whiskey, comic books, an exercise regimen,
a Nick Cave concert, personal apostasy,
and three Louis CK specials."
but the real answer
was the hope of moments like this,
to eventually be sitting at a plywood table,
across from someone who never stopped saying things I felt grateful to hear:
no matter the cabbage in her teeth,
the fish on her breath,
or the things I keep to myself.