She combs on mascara
Tilting her head this way and that.
Smudge of dark eyeliner, appreciate how
Skin seems to pale in contrast.

Shimmer of gloss
Fuss with hair, tugging, trimming strays
Smoothing into place.

Add hand-cream,
Touch up nail polish.

This is morning routine.
She blames society, half-heartedly, for seductive
Shelves of glossy cosmetics and
Women’s magazines: one for any demographic.

Quick glance in the mirror
Share a conspiratorial eye-roll with reflection at herself for
Being sucked in, the power of
Magazines and sparkle staying strong.

Wants to understand
what he sees in her.
This endeavour has been going on for
Months now, and still no closer
To an answer.

She holds back from him while
Trying to understand – he is patient.
She is grateful, but he won’t wait forever.

Exasperated now, still not understanding.
She begins to push him away and is
successful, far more than she was in understanding.

Routine is now habit.
They no longer speak – haven’t in
Months, but she fixes polish and liner
With a steady hand.

She realises one morning, with hand lotion
Still cold on her skin, that she
Was a sculptor.
She tried to mould herself to become
What she thought he wanted.

Now she is a painter
Hiding flaws under more
Layers. Darker liner, shimmery shadow soften dark under-eye circles,
Newly-short hair now a jarring red.

(She still can’t quite believe her hair;
It always takes her a moment when she
looks in the mirror.)

She recognises herself, betting that
He wouldn’t.

One more spray of perfume later,
She’s out the door, ready to be
Anonymous to a new audience.

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