THE UNREAL WOMAN'S IMPERFECTIONS
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes…
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it.
This steroidal flush of prednisone
is the closest the unreal woman will come
to a second adolescence: the impressive
constellation of acne rises from the deep
and interstellar spaces of her pores,
looms up through the layers of skin
like a slow and aching supernova. She buys
a copy of Seventeen, scans tips on breakouts,
finds articles on breakups. The unreal woman
wanders the makeup megamart, the skincare
city, sorts through pots and jars of unction,
cakes and slabs that promise to hide any woman’s
imperfections. Each heavy resurfacer will,
she is told in labels and back-of-bottle
copy, look natural. She picks out a primer
as though her face were a pocked sheet
of drywall, the lines of her increasing age
collateral damage in a slapdash plaster job.
She rubs a test glob over pale wrists
before turning her attention to foundation,
that weighty brick-and-mortar. It promises
her scars will fade, and her lumpy skin appear
smooth like a ripe and sun-warmed apricot.
She drags a swatch of pigment over her chin,
watches its pink undertones turn her the shade
of a cartoon piglet: sweaty and downed with hair
that pops into high relief on skin rollicked
with pits and rises of healing tissue.
The unreal woman is inspired. She grabs
a mango lip balm, uses a clean swab to orange it
across her mouth and make a garish X to draw
the gaze from spots. She poofs a cloud of bronzer
over her chipmunk-swelling cheeks, allows
dark pigment to settle into wrinkles, to simulate
a hollow, a false structure of bone. She inspects
her profile with a sidelong glance in the mirror.
She approves of herself, and fills her nose
with the in-breath of talc. She exhales, and a cloud
of rouge lifts her. She rises over the linoleum floor,
her soul glittering in the overhead light.