There Would Be Feathers
My eyes are still the same. Dove gray, the right one
slightly wider so it looks like my patience is depleted.
Face Kabuki white, layers of powder obscuring pock
marks, moles, imperfection, tears. Porcelain doll lips
painted scarlet, brushstrokes that slur when you’ve
had too many Kir Royales.
My chin resting imperiously on a black boa. I
knew at five there would be feathers. Hundreds of
feathers cut from the wings of forgotten swans.
I’m sweating in the rented dress, cinched tight
at the waist. I try to hide my hands, bending
them away from you. Later, when I kick
my toes above my curls the men in the last row
will grunt like pigs, stupid with desire.
We are two freaks in the Paris night. Dwarf and whore.
Voyeur and fly trap. Impervious to name calling or
the dull vagaries of life: the unwashed cup, the
stocking that needs mending, the pain in twice scarred
thighs. People gaze at us a beat too long, re-arranging
pieces in their minds, but the puzzle refuses to fit. If
you’d finished the portrait, chosen a proper background
instead of dirty cardboard, they’d take me for
royalty. No mirror please. No promises or whispers
of false adoration. You knew the chrysalis would have
to burn, the butterfly damaged, wings dazed with fire.
Beth Sherman has an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in Portland Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Blue Lyra Review, SandyRiver Review, Gloom Cupboard, Delmarva Review, Panoplyzine, Sinkhole, and
Sou’wester. Her poetry has been published in Lime Hawk, Gyroscope, Rust + Moth and Silver Birch Press. She is also a Pushcart nominee and has written five mystery novels.
The Ekphrastic Review
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