Effortless Beauty

A long night of beauty rest. 
Open your eyes
and roll over 
into the mirror-
your prison
without shackles.
They tell you,
"you choose to be there."
"You choose to wake up 
hours early."
"You choose to" begin your day 
thinking about 
what on you needs to be covered or enhanced.

They tell you, 
"you don't have to" with guileful grins
as if they're all in on the joke
and laughing behind you
but you can't even attempt to prove it because 
they're covering their ears
while painting your mouth
with layers of scarlet lipstick.

When I was eleven
my father asked me
"why can't you just put your hair up and walk out the door?"
I didn't answer him because I didn't have one then
and I still don't
other than "that's impossible."
What is this impenatrable force
that arrests my focus 
and handcuffs my ambition?
Why can't I fly away?
Hide away?

I am a soldier
who's survived unimaginable trauma
yet my will is weaker than 
the mirage of insecurity the patriarchy fabricated 
from the wool they placed over my eyes
when I became conscious of their gaze-
before I was barely a teenager.

Still
I've met women who are just as confident with
bubblegum swollen smiles
cherry flushed cheeks
and wide-eyed mascara winks
as they are when they dive head first 
into the lake.
Nature pulls off their masks 
below the surface
and they splash up 
as the sun cascades down
on a mermaidian masterpiece
hair whiplash
surrounded by dancing diamond drops.

I've always wanted to be her
and I've always wondered if she's really real
or if her lip dripping giggles appear confident 
on purpose.
Another patriarchal inspired
performance.

She's hard to recreate.
Maybe she's not my destiny. 
Maybe I'm doomed to deal with this
chip on my shoulder
and mask on my face
for who knows how long
until I find the key
or the sword to end my suffering.

Not because I'm not beautiful.
I probably am, but I can't tell.
I don't know what I look like-
I know what I don't feel like.
And this lack of satisfaction has stuck with me
through the gawky
the awk-y
all the way to the newfound moxie.

For all I know
I am that sparkling siren
who splashes up
shining
and crashes their 
ships
but the lingering disappointment
won't let me see her
in my reflection every morning,
any morning,
as I rush to disguise myself  
and besmirch my fingers with liquid 
beauty
in the eye of the inventor of each product
and founder of each line
and leaders of the industries
that make us hate who we see staring back
as we turn off our alarms and
roll over-

back to jail.


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