I am sitting in a café with my boy
that I have known longer than my
students have been alive, before the birth
of his firstborn son, and the waiter
wears a tight black camisole with bright green
beads. We smile because he is living his joy.
And how many people do that on the daily?
And how many of us know that joy like
pink and blue hair clips latched onto flawless waves?
And we must know some day where we are as serene
as Solangé’s expression always shaming Mona Lisa
who never knew about the ice grill or paper cranes.
I find myself wanting to raise my fists like I’m in
an elevator with my sister’s husband talking sideways
but I have no sisters as blood kin, I find myself
wanting to celebrate all the history that made me
and be a little gutter too, because once I carry
it in my pocket, it’s my slingshot and my stone
rubbed smooth by fingers and time. I find myself
counting the sway of what I claim and protecting
it like the last medallion that could be stolen.
Added: Thursday, May 11, 2017 / Used with permission.
Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and Arc & Hue (Willow Books, 2009). Her work has appeared in POETRY, American Poetry Review, Essence, NYLON, ESPNW, and numerous anthologies. Tara is also one of the co-editors of The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives About Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century (2Leaf Press, 2017). Tara holds a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University and a MFA in Creative Writing from New England College. She teaches at University of Illinois-Chicago. She represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam as part of the first two Mental Graffiti slam teams, and has appeared on radio and television, including HBO's Def Poetry Jam. Please, visit her website.