The Well-Practiced Art of Overthinking

In restaurants, my fingers worry the paper napkins  
into a small pile of nesting material, 
something you might line a den with  
to keep it warm in the winter.

I weave the straw wrapper into rings, my fingertips 
like restless animals waiting for the signal to run.  
A snapped branch under the hunter’s foot. 
A breath taken too sharply. 
The arrival of the waitress—  
my body ever primed for the next great disaster.  

I pick up the straw and chew it  
until it’s too warped to use.  

Sometimes, my partner holds my hands  
to stop them from shaking. 
I worry that it is just the holding which stops the tremor, 
not the set of hands that holds them. 

He has become my one reliable safe place, but 
that might not mean that there are not safer places—  
it might simply mean that I am not very good at feeling safe.

As I crumple the napkin-shards in my palms 
to hide them from the waitress, as I worry and wait for the hunter, 
dread asking for a new straw, 
as I catalog all the ways every action could go wrong,  
he smiles, and my racing heart slows down.