The National Poetry Review

Ruth Williams


Held yourself off from sweet,
tried to grit your teeth and wait it out,
to the streets you said, you wanted
motion as distraction as cars
along the sides of your ribs
like insects tickling
beneath your skin. That is the shadow
in you, like felt that rubs
in its way of unnaturally skidding,
its way of being the glove you wear,
its way of being the song you sing.
Oh, how beauty comes. That’s a word you
earn by holding off, I suppose,
by faking nonchalance, by staring
and wanting the edges of your hands
to grasp the sides of your heart,
but holding them instead,
loose, too loose at your sides.

RUTH WILLIAMS is the author of a poetry collection, Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), and two chapbooks, Nursewifery (Jacar Press, 2019) and Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Currently, she is an Associate Professor of English at William Jewell College and an Editor for Bear Review.

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