“Y’all have no idea how much
it costs to look this cheap.”
I, too, believe in makeup, believe in
the luxurious artifice of color
that couldn’t possibly come from within.
I want my eyelashes as long as spiders’ legs,
my cheeks the startled tones of too much–
sun, drink, fevered loving–and my mouth
a darker, more defined wound. I love
most the men who aren’t afraid, who’ll kiss
my red lips straight on, take the color
onto their own, leave it there until
some other woman touches a tissue
to her tongue, rubs out my being there.
It is, indeed, expensive to be cheap.
Think of Jezebel, alone at her dressing
table, her meticulously rendered
applications–hands, hair, face, feet. She knows
they are coming to kill her, that her blood
will bracelet the hooves of horses,
perhaps even imagines her hands and feet
gnawed from their limbs but still lovely,
lovingly tendered, an offering of sorts.
I’ve lived long enough to know what can happen
to a face, to the body earned and deserved.
Applying makeup is a way of saying,
here’s who I am, enhanced and ready for
anything. Come on now, come on and kiss me.