Paper Tiger

Mingpei Li

So much we needed for

that summer trip, a white

convertible we spotted on

Craigslist: price modest,

my savings could stretch

itself (like money, what

could we ask of each other

except, cover me?), surf-

boards we would pick up

in the Carolinas. Heading

to the desert was a metaphor

no universe had enough

humor or cruelty to let

us set off on, disbelieving

our own good fortune.

The thing I licked was

not my finger, the thing

you broke was not my skin.

Startled, in a film I saw

our car with its twin doors

opened on a road flanked

by dust and scrub, a dragonfly

patient for a change in

atmospheric pressure. Count

on instinct to kick in. Glide

low on the nearly wet air.


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