Monday, May 2, 2011

The look that a woman or girl

The look that a woman or girl reserves
for a prettier woman or girl. It is
in part resentful, in part--her darting
eyes--full of pity and need, of a glancing
feeling of sympathy pains at pinched
toes, at arms and shoulders exposed
to the prickling air, of flush at pluck
of hair (her eyebrows and who knows?).
The one--as they say, as she may have been told--
is mousy and must seem dutiful: merely
dressed, not adorned, and dully colored,
she is used to standing out only when not so many
others are around. The other is strawberry
blonde and hungrily thin; she is clothed
much closer in, and shows much more
of her pale and prickling skin. She does not
wobble on her heels, however improbably
high. But she is not less dutiful.
The one is looking; the other is listening
in, to the thinned and darkened voice
of an older woman nearby: she used
to smoke, and still she wishes to smolder,
with makeup stark and clear. But it is
not bright: like her eyes--well past resentful--
and the heatworn russet of her hair, the color
of heatwoven corn. (And if you husked:
the stretched and restitched skin that barely
covers the skull, the cottony tufts
of the will, desire worn thin, rewashed,
and worn again.) The look that a woman
or girl reserves at what she feels is the end.

(Begun 28 April 2011, edited 2 May 2011. From life or what has been made, not asked, to pass for it.)