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



After he left, you bought new headphones
with slim, silver device that slips into pockets
without square buttons, cassettes, or CDs. You
build a library of growing sounds old and new.
Add the British girl who taps into ore of women’s
losses like a prospector. Adele rises brash, full-bodied,
telling off the one who walked out foolhardy
and soon to regret. You need that rhapsody since
you are spending Christmas and coquitos with
your girl back from Brazil. She is sun-kissed
with Tinker Bell flip flops. You are meeting her when
she lands. On the way to Newark Airport baggage claim,
you find yourself alone in a shuttle car winding around
the airport through the quiet night. Her voice sonorous
almost reminds you of La Lupe, pure soar of puro teatro,
but it is the song itself that lured you to loving The Cure,
and Robert Smith’s red lipstick pout and hair sprayed into
upright crown and curls. In eighth grade, you kept thinking
of his build into the phrase whenever I’m alone with you
You are alone, separated and on this shuttle car. Adele sings
this song that permeates more than twenty of your years.
It is new again, like the moment when you begin singing
to your reflection in the car’s window, like a girl
with a hairbrush and the perfect mirror to pose. Hands
thrown up, pointing, tapping to your chest, eyes closed.
This is your concert, a serenade to break tears.
You tell yourself You make me feel like I am clean again.
You make me feel like I am young again. However far
away, however long I stay, Whatever words I say…
You point at your chest and say I will always love you.
The shuttle stops, doors open, no one enters, doors close.
You press repeat, start singing some short triumph again.

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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