The mothers, they let you takethe child off into a room, alone.
Just get it done.
It’s not sanitary, but I’ve seen
my aunt take a spit-moist thumb
and rub the corner of a red mouth
when she was pressed for time.
I got this job from her,when her fingers turned arthritic
and she couldn’t hold the small chins
in place anymore, couldn’t sweep
the mascara wand so deftly
that it wouldn’t flutter the moth wings
of the children’s eyelashes.
On pageant nights, I sweat and hurry.I say Look up, sweetheart
and Sit still, honey
about a hundred times, just before
I touch a brown crayon to their waterlines.
What I should say is Look everywhere, darling.
And Run, if you want.
Really, I'm not so much a poet as I am a novelist with very, very little patience.
For today's poem, I came up with - fictionalized - a character, a voice, a situation. Often, these poems are my favorite, and are the most fun, the easiest to write. Once I come up with the character, and a situation, the poem comes fast. Much faster than when I'm dealing with autobiographical material. This poem, unlike the other more imagination-based poems in this project so far, doesn't ultimately track back to me processing my feelings about my childhood.
I've never participated in any aspect of a pageant.
I'm still in this poem, though - in those last lines, that's all me. That's what I want to say, often, to young girls and women.
Also, Little Miss Sunshine is one of my favorite movies.
Also, I know what it's like to try to apply mascara to another person's lashes. Very difficult.
Does anybody have any questions about any of my poems? If so, feel free to ask me in the comments! I will do my best to answer.
(Is anybody out there?)
I wrote this poem on October 6, 2014 as part of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.