The Wicked One Goes to the Makeup Counter

You can't argue beauty's not an accident, the particular heft and angle
of a chromosome's spin. A tarted spangle, bright lanyard twist, the slip
of cells weighting this boat uneven from stern to prow. We're all

skittery as marbles on  a marble floor. Beauty stays, then goes;
it fades, we say, something about years and sun, the nights we slept
in makeup and left mascara like ashes on the pillowcase. We burned

through every one of our dreams. I wasn't always a stepmother, you know.
There were whole years when I was a girl. But now, these ladies
sell me moisturizer, stand close in their lab coats, pretending at science

in a fog of perfume. They wield a contour brush and my cheekbone pops.
The magic settles uneasy; it turns out fairy dust was always
fake. And the lipstick's made from beetles, shells crushed vermillion.

My color is Fleshpot, they say, it's Folie or Fixation. It's Wilderness;
it's Artificial Earth. They can't quite make themselves care.
We'll waste it, they know, whatever we've been given.

Janet McNally, "The Wicked One Goes to the Makeup Counter" from Some Girls. Copyright © 2015 by Janet McNally.  Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press.
Source: Some Girls (White Pine Press, 2015)
More Poems by Janet McNally