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Every Other Tenderness by Lake Vargas

Every Other Tenderness


One night, a woman touches me.

Clasps my hand and pulls me


across the console. Our fingers

in a big knot. For a second I think


she is going to hit me.


One night, a woman kisses me.

Her mouth is perfect cursive.


I try to tell myself I don’t need you,


but then you weld your hand

to my thigh, like I am a steady place


for you to reach something else.

If I could, I would give you


every other tenderness. I would

roll into your side of the mattress


for your warmth in the morning.

I would tell you today I looked out


the office window and thought

of only you, honey, the only stasis


in my sheets. I don’t want to go back

to fists. I’m much better unfurling


beneath your palms. Don’t think

about smoke curling around


my shoulders like a coat, or the way

that, with the right potion, I could


laugh wildly and unfringed.

If I could, I would give you


every other tenderness.

If I could, I would.


I don’t love you because I can’t

handle a wall pitchforked open


by a fist, a collage of glass glittering

on the carpet, a man pinning me


with droplets of his spit. The truth is,

you and I are always outlasting dark.


We are always taller than buildings.

We are always singing.




Lake Vargas primarily writes poetry and creative non-fiction.  Her work has most recently been published by Butcher PapersMarías at Sampaguitas, and Butter Press. She tweets at @lakewrites. More of her work can be found on her Tumblr, @stonemattress.

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