When a Brown Girl Takes a Walk

I straighten my hair
before stepping outdoors.
It’s trash pick-up day.

Most cans do not smell.
Green cans are for recycling.
Brown cans are for refuse.

Two dogs bark & charge me.
I freeze. I read somewhere that
dogs only see in black & white.

In dog-eyes, I am a shade of gray.
I carry my phone in a crossbody bag.
The bag is blue, matching the sky.

In the Revolutionary War, soldiers
fired when they could see the
“whites” of their enemies’ eyes.

I wear sunglasses when I walk.
I avoid 4-7pm rush hour, look
straight ahead, no eye contact.

I wear a white hat in winter.
I pin back my hair, long &
black, away from my eyes.

Fall leaves transform into
crispy, rusty heaps. I match
the color of dying leaves.

Prasanta Verma was born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills in the southern U.S., and now resides in the upper Midwest. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Bramble Lit Mag, Relief Journal, a New York Quarterly anthology, and she has a book about ethnic loneliness forthcoming in 2024. She tweets at @VermaPrasanta

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