Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Badge of Womanhood

There comes a time
In each woman’s life when
Makeup no longer enhances.
 
I saw this in Mom,
Painstakingly applying mascara, lipstick
But no longer able to see the blotch, the blur
Or that her face now looked oddly askew.
 
She was pleased with herself
Until Dad, distraught from seeing her so unable,
Lost his small portion of patience,
And snapped,
Nancy! You have to wash your face! It’s all smeared!
 
He couldn’t see she felt a failure
Didn’t see her droop from harshness
Couldn’t see why—when she hardly went out—
She still wanted that badge of womanhood
That she had worn so proudly, so well, for so long,
Now she could no longer control her fingers, or see.
 
Caregivers that could, wouldn’t risk an eyeliner
Colliding with one of her sudden shifts to sharpness
As she recoiled from some imagined slight,
Dementia snorting
Through her cracked mood.
 
Her face slipped into cragginess
Once-bright eyes went squinty and tense
Smooth skin ruffled,
Past help.
 
Now she no longer asks for makeup.
There are no outward signs she misses it,
Or even knows that era is gone.
 
* * * * *
 
When it’s my turn, will I follow her,
Too old in the mirror to care,
Too young in my mind to desire rouge?
 
Or will I too be grateful for sweet pudding,
Pleased when sun showers my window,
Relieved when I have no pain,
 
Glad life has become
So much less—and so much more—
Than makeup?
 
 
DeirdreDeirdre Hennings resumed writing poetry and short stories after writing grant proposals on staff at Occidental College for several years. Previously she had written fundraising letters, marketing materials and grant proposals for clients including the City of Inglewood and the Los Angeles Conservancy.
 
 

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Categories: Mental Health, Poetry, Themed

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Love this poem! Keep writing, Deirdre. You have a gift!

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