On the Whole | Ashley Roach-Freiman


to AL and AL

    Say something else say

I decided to forgive us

    You, a text I entered—

Wearing your earring Wearing ugly birds

            Say birds

    Say I could not change you  Or wholly enter your mouth

Perfume and breathing

    Say I get nervous say

      I'd picture us together

It could have been better between us (I picture it)

    Reading together

          Twisting wet fingers in my mind

      Say birds around certain people Say

        I can be cold and weird like certain

Say Prince and dancing so drunk

    I'd think of you and want to be alone touching

Always in my mind that way  Van Morrison's little ballerina you

    I'd think of you and want to be touching but it's distant

      A distant wind field

You and me watching each other dance

    Say see? Say again in the shell in my mind, mine

      Never mine were you

In a private way, your husband's smile

    Sell me on it Sell me on you again Spin and Spin

      Bourbon down your rich chin

Cardboard with big teeth

    My hunger and your hunger

      In conversation

For him We do We will

    Have different mouths ok

          I get it

      You do not make me myself

Wearing your earring dancing

    I still search for the speaking tongue

      In my dream about you




Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet with work appearing or forthcoming in Southern Women's Review, Bone Bouquet, THRUSH Poetry Journal, The Literary Review, Ghost Proposal, and Nightjar Review. A chapbook, Bright Along the Body, is available from Dancing Girl Press. She is currently working on a full-length collection. Find out more at ashleyroachfreiman.com.