everything he could know about her
could be found in the things she didn’t talk about,
and she hadn’t been talking about much of anything for quite a while

but it was time;
it had become a sludge so thick it filled her lungs,
a slow hardening that made it difficult to breathe

so she gritted her eyes and tucked the shame into her cheek so she could talk around it,
and she told him –
she was failing

the dignified satisfaction at what had, at first,
felt like a victory,
had slowly and methodically curdled,
and now it was rotten,
all of it

what was once her most admired characteristic –
her callous resolve,
her stern determination to succeed despite the turmoil,
her pulling herself up at the bootstraps, again,
was not enough

and no matter how she tried to feel proud of her decision to give in,
to let allow herself to fail if it was meant to happen,
she felt no victory in it

even in the beautiful slaying of her ego,
she felt no triumph in being reminded she was broken