I stand alone, collar lifted
Headphones cupping ears
against wind. My blush only
a stun from Midwestern wind
on my cheeks. My bare hands
stuffed deep in down jacket
pockets, thick soles braced
against concrete. This city
breaks icily under my skin
like a bitter lover who keeps
coming back to some honey
caught beneath this ribcage,
where another winter resides—
thick and predictable. Lipstick—
red sharper than a whetted blade,
a bright brutality like a weapon
raised before I lift my hood
and face a descent of degrees.  

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. She’s a co-editor of The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century and editor of the critical edition of Philippa Duke Schuyler’s memoir Adventures in Black and White, both of which are published by 2Leaf Press/University of Chicago Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, Essence, Nylon, Lit Hub, and numerous anthologies.

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