Opulent, Taharah Islam
embodied stories pass me on the sidewalk & my head is a balloon / floating above / but I still cannot see through skulls to the thoughts & narratives inside / from my inflated position / I suffer from a buoyancy complex / KOM-pleks (n.) an assemblage of featureless stick figures engaged in fist-fights over the last departed dandelion soul / also, an array of emotions & ideas tangled together like half-deflated balloons kissing the tiled ceiling of your neighborhood dollar store / that same store, checkout lane 3, where the cashier’s complexion offers a false sense of age & a true sense of reality / kom-PLEK-shun (n.) blotches & wrinkles & tones that allow the flesh to overshare today’s story while paying homage to ancestors / & yes, that cashier’s narrative stretches beyond “would you like your receipt in the bag?” & yes, the faces that pass me on the street hold secrets / like yesterday’s breakup & tomorrow’s new job & today’s defeat / high as the helium-inflated orb caught by a maple tree grasping for a new companion / & now my complex is stuck in a web of complexity / kom-PLEK-si-tee (n.) the intricacies of branches & biological subdivisions chasing different things yet all desiring the same ends / my buoyancy complex bursts from the complexity of the trees & people & galaxies & everything spinning around my punctured, flailing flesh
About the Author
Samantha Mattingly · Hope College
Samantha Mattingly graduated from Hope College in 2020 with a BA in Music. She now works for a small business in her hometown of Holland, Michigan, and spends all of her spare time reading and sharing music with friends. “complex / complexion / complexity” was first published in Opus.
About the Artist
Taharah Islam · George Mason University
Taharah Islam is majoring in biology with a minor in psychology at George Mason University. She enjoys working with chalk pastel and oil-based colored pencil and is actively involved in The Memory Project, creating portraits for children in different countries. In 2017, she earned first place at the Virginia’s 11th District Congressional Art Competition. As an aspiring physician, her interest in the relationship between medicine and art inspired this piece, which first appeared in Volition.