by Camille Alexa
I sip my water, avert my eyes,
try again to think of something nice to say
“You’re disappointed,” he says, looking glum.
“Oh, no! Not at all!” I hasten to assure.
“It’s just that, well...”
“It’s the third ear, isn’t it?” he asks,
and pounds his tentacle on the table.
My waterglass jumps, sloshes;
nervous waiters look our direction, frown.
I cover his tentacle with my hand,
ignore the hint of slime, the whiff of rotted fruit.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“You just don’t look
anything like your picture.”
He scowls. “Stupid online dating. Hate it.”
And then he starts to cry.
I am mortified.
Oh stop! Really—
It’s not you, it’s me.”
“You and every other girl,” he says.
“It isn’t easy, so far from home.
My planet’s only splinters, you know; just that and ash.”
I nod, I coo. “I know,” I say,
and pat his appendage again.
He uses another to scratch his hunched shoulder,
smooth his scales
and another to lift his glass to his third lip
and another to flag the waiter for the check.
“Besides,” he says, much calmer now, “you’re especially pretty...”
— I smile, murmur something pleasant, useless —
“...And so many of those chicks are total dogs.”