RICHMOND, VA, 2020

BY ALISSA BARBER

the cool September breeze 
touches me comfortingly 
and makes it way past,
as a withered leaf reaches the pavement
and the squeak of bike wheels
echoes in my eardrums.

the fabric on my cheeks
reflects every breath,
two layers of polypropylene
all I need to protect me.
as my feet scrape the pavement
my eyes inspect the scene.

those that are daring sit close.
the even more confident 
smile broadly unashamed
of the light hitting their face freely.
others fingers reach out over tables,
intertwining, sharing a secret.

through the grass and trees
a cement block and a plaque deserted,
lonely with nothing to top it.
a memory of the past
painted with words that promise
something to come in the future.

but my feet come to a halt,
while my mind runs wild.
finding a place to rest
underneath the soft shadow
cast by branches intertwined.
stuck in the middle of a moment.

and I wonder what my future holds?
will I die with
a smile forever hidden,
in a city full of 
loose ends and lost dreams,
will I ever know a love
when I’ve been told not to get close?