The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “Break the Habit” by Tara Betts


When I Loved You

A time marked me not knowing better
as if you spelled out some language
of my ancestors in stones, and somehow
I began remembering those words, spelling
and signing, then dancing and singing.

One night, you stopped in a parking lot
where we munched on fries from cardboard
boxes and Hector Lavoe sung Aguanile—
a phrase he wheedled gracefully from Spanish
and Yoruba until I did not care about being
parked in an empty parking lot.

I flung my door open and you turned
the volume up until the blacktop echoed.
My white skirt spun in circles around
your car, and I laughed like gold bells.

When the song ended, the hollow of each
bell crushed a clapper inside, into balls
crinkled as used aluminum foil.

This selection comes from the collection Break the Habit, available from Trio House Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for September is Donna Vorreyer.

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and Arc & Hue (Willow Books, 2009).  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). Her work has appeared in POETRYAmerican Poetry ReviewEssenceNYLON, and numerous anthologies. She teaches at University of Illinois-Chicago.

Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013) as well as seven chapbooks, most recently Encantado, a collaboration with artist Matt Kish from Redbird Chapbooks. She is the reviews editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection, and she works as a middle school teacher in the Chicago suburbs.


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