Bio Note: I have recently retired from teaching English and French in a high school in Los Angeles, and have finally caught up on sleep. My chapbook The Belly Remembers and two full-length collections of poems, Wild Domestic and Moraine, were all published by Pearl Editions. I am a long time member of Donna Hilbert's wonderful poetry workshop.
In our bathroom, ribbony damp strips reveal a dank and rotting world beneath an antique garden that was once new wallpaper. “We’ve got to fix this,” I tell my husband. “No, I like it this way,” he says. “It reminds me of Paris.” I think of Paris today as I look at my face in the bathroom mirror. So many people keep their faces up as we might our bathroom walls, moist and pale, pulled up tight, stitched and stapled; they even learn to free their faces of feeling, to meet the world with a mask that is smooth and shiny and which may indeed look good, but we are not fooled. You can see death’s shadow on their gleaming hair if you know how to look for it. I want my own face to bear the memory of every time I ever cried or smiled raised my brows or frowned, every time I screamed or felt like screaming, every time my body convulsed with laughter, every dream that ever darted across my sleeping lids. I want my face to be a panorama of experience, a book that one might really want to read not some smooth slate whose past has plainly been erased. I want this face to seize strangers by the collar, scream “Here is my life! I have loved this messed-up life!” I want my husband to look at my face twenty years from now and see something beautiful that he remembers. I want him to look at my face and see Paris.
Is This How It Feels?
Is this how it feels to be a daffodil after five days in a white milk pitcher on a kitchen table? Is this how it feels when you see your petals curl up at the ends like a ragged hem? Is this how it feels to have reached the summit of loveliness and be raveling back down, sucked in and browning at the edges? Is this how it feels to have your face turn to a mockery of what it was just yesterday, when it beheld its own goldenness in the mirror and said “I’m so happy to see you! but even now your face averts its gaze? Is this how it feels to watch spring open all around you and know you’ll never be there again?
©2020 Tamara Madison
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