“Makeup” by Lisa Bass

Lisa Bass


after C.K. Williams

We were afraid to jinx it, so when my daughter emerged
from her dark bedroom for the first time in what felt like months
and came to the table with her soft face caked in cosmetics,
we all stilled our gazes, made certain not to react,
except for her youngest sister, who’d been scarfing
a breakfast burrito, but now gasped then grimaced
and gestured with a burrito-holding hand toward desperate
layers of foundation, liquid cat-eye already cracking,
and my daughter’s face, hovering over her empty chair,
started to crumple until she stopped herself and instead
closed her eyes, then gently and with a focused intensity,
ran her fingertips across one overly contour-powdered cheekbone
and then the other, the way an astronaut, before releasing herself
from the confining safety of a pressurized airlock, must check
the seals on her unwieldy but necessary-for-survival space suit.

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Lisa Bass: “I write poems for the thrill and comfort of finding out what I think and feel.” (web)

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