Southern Femme and Arnold Palmer
by Makaila Aarin
Baristas call orders and grind coffee beans.
I sip chai and chat with friends about classes
and dates while flipping through fashion magazines.
I adjust the bridge of my purple glasses
as sun blazes through the open door and bends
around Girl’s curves, her movements as she passes.
Ignoring the giggles and gossip of three friends,
I eavesdrop as she orders strawberry tea.
My eyes follow her path, while I play pretend,
imagining Girl’s green eyes connect with me.
She walks toward me, biting her glossy lips. She offers
her hand, inviting my fingers to interweave.
Instead, she settles two tables away, seat across
her empty. My fuchsia lips crave conversation
while I stare at hers curling around the straw.
My lace dress, pink sandals, hair curls undone
conceal my body aching for Girl’s gentle hands,
trimmed nails coated in peach polish. Temptation
ignites when my glittering lashes demand
Girl wearing sunflower dress, sash around hips,
to shut her book so I can savor one glance.
My bangs, dark and draped, become a veil to eclipse
my forbidden flushed cheeks. Friends’ voices fade.
Heartbeat rises. Sliding from my chair, I take light steps
toward her en route to cream and sugar. My gaze
meets hers as I wave and smirk with subtle pride.
Ignoring other faces, I dream my perfume teases
her to whisper “hello,” causes our paths to collide.
Our dresses and winged eyeliner might fool the world,
but her mutual grin says our desire mustn’t hide.
Sunrays beam into mocha brown eyes
guarded by black metal frames. Rocking side
to side, you weigh cravings from the menu:
macaroni or sweet potato fries.
You smooth your bun of black curls, no strand loose,
and ask, “As always, am I ordering for you?”
My head nods. Others drink coffee carefree,
you dig at cuticles as secrets ooze
from your lips. Three months turned chats between
roommates to sweaty palms after Nashville streets
sleep, movie marathons where shoulders dare
touch. You gaze. “Do you feel the same about me?”
A fragment of flesh from your finger tears.
Half smiling, I fumble with rolled silverware.
You tuck your hand, hiding the seeping sore.
The server slides breadsticks between us, shares
today’s specials, and asks for our drink order.
You suggest, “Which glass are you in?” Before
I answer, thoughts mix. Unable to decide
on iced tea or lemonade, I say Arnold Palmer.
My Arnold Palmer, your lemonade arrive.
You offer a sip. I decline. “I prefer mine.”
I fear other couples overheard my choice
and picture glances from families beside
our table. Both sugary and tart on ice,
my Arnold Palmer refines my voice.
Your confession so sweet, my lips purse
as I suck liquid I realize won’t suffice.
Stomach swirling, my hand reaches for yours,
as I imagine this touch becomes a curse
at holiday gatherings and picnic dates.
Droplets dribble down my drink with each verse.
We share stories of sports games, college days,
late night talks. With each giggle and gaze,
fluttering foot, our chairs inch closer when
we discern what we may lose and gain.
Shadows of doubt invade your powderless skin,
revealing each blemish, imperfection.
Once ice remains, you look around askance,
no smile this time: “Which glass are you in?”
Makaila Aarin works as an academic librarian in Mississippi where she lives with her three rescue dogs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degrees in library science and education. Her poetry has appeared in Prismatica Magazine, Stone of Madness, GlitchWords, and other small presses. Her work is forthcoming in The Rainbow Poems and Sinister Wisdom. Find her on Twitter: @makaila_aarin