My Breath is Black

Poetry / DéLana R.A. Dameron

I roll my eyes when J says
I only write about race
because in at least one
stanza in every poem exists
the word Black. J breathes white
—she runs in Asics along
the river at any time of day,
night, in tank top & baby blue
shorts. It is second nature.
All my running clothes are Black.
I choose daylight only,
crowded streets. There are J’s
everywhere running North,
running South. Even
their shadows are white,
predictable. My flat foot falls
on the asphalt & heads turn—
cars stop & applause: Go Girl!
Looking good out there!

Or a question in the eyes:
Why am I running
if not for my life? Look
how only the brown folks
think brown folks running
is worthy of praise, I say.
There I go
talking race again. I don’t
point out the miracle(s): somehow
I made it crossing a police
car’s path without a bullet
in my Black. When we run
in Winter white ribbons
of air form a halo around her.

DéLana R.A. Dameron is a writer and arts and culture administrator living in Brooklyn, NY. Dameron is the author of Weary Kingdom (2017) and her debut collection How God Ends Us was selected by Elizabeth Alexander for the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Dameron holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has conducted readings, workshops and lectures all across the United States, Central America and Europe.