by Ruth Williams

Racing through
the white bars of snow
your head snaps
trying to see.

Someone on the course
sings happy birthday
as you pass.

A gesture that frees
icy particles
in the air

as if a mouth had warmed
the spot immediately
in front of it.

A poof and
you’re sliding through
glittery curtains

while the runner beside you
waves, encased
in the breath of being seen.

At your childhood home, you
insist on running alone
along the path

that weaves
through long prairie grass—bent
like hair weighted with ice—

behind the Walmart, the subdivision,
in and out of the trees,
visible, then not.

Your mother, sisters
express worry for you
as a tenderness.

But, you are a human animal.
You run alone.

It is your own
mouth-meet-your own
mouth moment

your footprint, so sure
going away, so quick
coming back.

Ruth Williams is the author of Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College and an Editor for Bear Review.