magenta curls in the blossom’s mouth

the paper proclaims spring

contours of plastic, selling the eyes

and shipping the mouth overseas

exchanging beauty by hand

the picture is an erasure, she is stripped

in the blonde curls,

the red of the cheek, and the pallor of the eyeliner

crossing the cusp of the forehead like wires,

vines in her crow’s feet and blue claws on the iris

tell us how the lips sparkled,

the story of the face painters,

the tales of the clicks and the tracing of the track pad and

the steadily increasing whiteness,

the tonal shift of the input

and the moralizing of each pore, begging us

to believe we can achieve it,

preaching the gospel of the redeemed pariah,

the climbing beggars, saints

and self flagellation

concealing the bruises, the souls, the unacceptable ink and

the missing dark colors

whispering in the green eyes

and screaming from the skin, denying their existence

building castles of their self-doubt and filling them with bodies,

sputtering excuses: that they were all just

so pretty.

[artwork by Adams Carvalho]

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