Volume 21, Number 4


Fear presses against her lips, her teeth, her tongue.
The newscaster talks about a reasonable suspicion.
Police officers might stop her at any time.
Demand to see papers please. Visa expired, unable
to obtain a drivers license, she is driven by van each day
to work as a domestic. Hers is a borrowed life.

August heat invades even the shadiest corner of the street.
She dresses fast. Discards the notion of bright shirt,
fanned skirt. In the yard, she unlocks the bike, straddles
the seat, pedals to the drug store eight blocks away.
Facial products crowd the shelves. She picks up a kit
containing plastic gloves, bleaching cream.

In the curve of the bathroom mirror, hers is the face
of an inconvenient woman, burdened by olive skin.
The blameless sky is bluer than usual this morning.
She opens the jar scoops a finger full of cream, spreads it
across forehead, cheeks and chin. Remorse swims below
the surface of her skin. It is a separate part of her life.

—Sasha Ettinger