My Breath is Black

— 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.

Read more from Issue No. 9 or share on Facebook and Twitter.