Summer 2006

 

 

 


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the obligation to be beautiful

Susan Williams

"Don't cry baby," her father would say. "You're not pretty when you cry."

                Great-grandma took arsenic,
                just a pinch in her chamomile tea
                to keep that pallid cast in her cheek
                her husband loved. He married her
                for her lovely ethereal look (like an angel
                he said), but now and again
                sent a wandering glance
                after a face in the street just as wan and pale.

                Now and again she stirred in
                a ghostly pinch. Said it was nothing
                to her whalebone stays. Made her a little giddy

                was all. She was fresh as a lily for nearly six years.

 

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