Tara Betts


for Ciara Miller


Standing with boxes in our arms
on the tail of August while morning
brushes our faces, we ascend in an
elevator and never let papers fool us.
Some will remind us of our descent.
Our kind are clipped, disadvantaged.
A rise rendered farfetched splits clouds
while I unpack highlighters and
a tea kettle that rests on my desk
that surrendered grit and silt to lemony
disinfectant. Coffee rings disappeared
under the now smooth surface where
my pens gather with clips and prongs
from binders. We unpack these trappings
to feel at home in a place that opened
but never welcomed us.  Mentioning
our names is an act of subversion. I un-
wrap a tape dispenser without stuttering
when a woman from a few doors down
eyes my name on the office door, looks
at the lamp on the desk next to mine,
bumbles through keeping track of supplies
while her eyes shift between our thick, tall,
brown bodies in silent questioning. I ask
one question about inventory, but keep
taking stock of how many times I say
I bought these new things. This is my office.