The Bride Gets Ready for the Christmas Party

She looks in the mirror, pensive,
counts the scars;
the railroad ripple of stomach staples,
the long-term illnesses of others,
the remains of various gouges “just to check”,
the funerals.
The ruching of that therapeutic throat-slitting.
The tattoos of her losses.

The toxic residue of teen years is old paint on her cheeks;
there are frustrations old and new on her forehead.

If you begin the removal
of all the things
that don’t measure up,
she thinks,
begin the removal
of all the things
not perfect enough,
all that is left
is the soul–
the perfectible soul.
And even that
will not, cannot,
be perfect here.

While you’re wearing skin, she thinks,
every little thing leaves its mark.
That road map is you, honey.
Anyone worth knowing knows that.

She covers the scars society demands she hide,
and goes to celebrate
hope —
her mouth rouged, just for a moment,
perfect red.

* * * * *

Lydia Ondrusek’s other posts at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.