by Jae Green

He’s old and loaded with groceries and coverless paperbacks in a crumpled plastic bag.
A sweater draped over his shoulders just in case the weather turned fickle.
Old enough to feel no unkind cut to his maleness when I offered him my seat on the bus.
He peered over the celery stalks in his market bag like a bride sneaking peeks over her bouquet.
“Don’t look down.”
At first I think he means that I should keep flying and floating until I’ve crossed the unseen high-wire and an invisible crowd is lifting up fat squirming babies to get a closer look at what I did.
But he means my face and the frown I carried with me like a bad penny.
Too foul to spend, too valuable to throw away.
“Like this Miss.”
And he lifted his jaw in a smile and showed his neck shaven to grey and white pencil-points, a brush that would rough up the hands of any woman that straightened his tie or pulled his collar down.
“Smile? ” His volume lifting like his chin.
I didn’t want him to think I was too stupid to learn.
I show my teeth.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Acrobat” was inspired by the many ways there are look.

Green-No Mask

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jae Green is a poet, second-generation artist, mother, and cancer survivor originally from the South Side of Chicago. Her poetry can be found in anthologies such as Tia Chucha’s Open Fist, Smithsonian Magazine, and Voices from the Heartland. She has performed at The Green Mill, Randolph Street Gallery, The Chicago Cultural Center, WomanMade Gallery, Metro, Around the Coyote, and The Catherine Edelman Gallery. She recently participated in BodyPassages, a year-long collaboration between the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and The Chicago Poetry Center.