TIGER & SOFTER

 

Ashley Opheim

 

TIGER

I parade through this affair with wet hair and a tan. Roll a eucalyptus candy between my tongue and cheek. My emotions manifest all these elegant extended sentiments about him. For I am leaving our country feeling more alive than when I arrived. In the airport we send each other emojis: red hearts and shooting stars and pink flowers. He says ‘this feeling for you will fade’ and yes, but I am thinking of him while charging my MacBook in the airport with these paper flower crowns I don't want to crumble. I finger the periphery of the bruises on my legs we made together. Think about eye contact under the bougainvillea tree. His light brown iris amongst Catholic, pewter charms: an arm a leg a heart an eye. Bounce this thing between us with a sparkly rainbow tail. For him, in the heat our eyelids chiming. For him, opening a door for me. For him, over papaya. For him, opening a window for me. For he walked on the outside of the sidewalk. For he was a beautiful exception. He said I want you to beg for it. I am so tantalized by that stupid cosmic thing I always want to touch. My imagination is so wild about this. The Air Force of desire. The stamina of passion. I want him in fields of blue agave. I want him, my alien tentacle. I want him covered in flowers, oranges and chile. I want him, this man of the red moon. This child of vanilla and cinnamon. I want him in the middle of a dream, self-existing. I want him trembling on this web I am on. Atop fragrant patterns. I want him in a park in the middle of the city. Like rare fruit. I kiss his beautiful brown palm. He lightly touches my face and hair and sees his beauty reflected here. And me too, I see my self there.

 

 

SOFTER

 

When I observe the blood in my underwear,
I start to give away things that matter to me.

Regret doing so by laying in bed and scrolling.

Stuff toilet paper in my underwear,
wait for things to harden first

before softening.

But I am.
Softening

here in the dark
on the rigid couch.

On this lonely beach
which is me.

I am softening against this
Dollar Store laundry detergent.

For no one.
For those that suffer

and tremble
and who are unwashed.

I am against
this impossible data,

despairing minimum wage
and job insecurity.

Government programs.
Doing things wrong.

Being looked at
too closely.

I am softening.
Waiting and bleeding.

I am hardening so that
tomorrow I can be softer

and faster