All the Beauty Goes Elsewhere

You eye a picture
of your grandmother, note her cascade of curls,
catch your mother’s golden locks glinting
once more in the sun; and there, again, is the minute grinning
Norse-girl skiing down the perfect bunny slope
of your sister’s nose, as you turn

your face to profile, that trusted magic
trick that trims the broad bridge
of your own, framed by its wan brown hair—somewhere
the mixed bag of beauty wrote itself out
of your code, a sonnet refusing to hang on

to its object of love, turning instead
to the half-dead dog wheezing at the foot
of the bed, the difficult master
who loves him, hits him, rolls his eyes and waters
his bowl—snip, snip goes genetics, and there

you are, whole and broken
cloth, a woman who spends twenty straight
stupid minutes pinning the wispies
to the half-assed bun at the top of her head, arriving late
to her second cousin twice removed’s bridal shower
where at least 16 bridesmaids are somehow dressed
in the same sleek shade of blue. And you

want to deny the beauty of the lace and tulle, the cotton
flipping up and down like a flock
of royal birds, to render them
voiceless, to shove the shining silk of twenty-
something collarbones into a baroque box, a shimmering
reduction, a twittering pack
of matching fools, the ease, the ease—

and then they speak, and the beauty
goes elsewhere, transforms
into love for your awkward second cousin twice removed
who somewhere in her toothy grin,
her strong, thick thighs bears you out—what if this

is really it, the last word, the last
dumb poem you’ll ever get to write, you’ll never traffic
in another tongue but the fat golden apples of English—you’ve tried
Spanish, Russian, French but the letters went
elsewhere, a watered sieve—

and anyway, you’ll likely live, and age, fat and golden
in America, as every last bit of what was once,
if not beauty, then youth, if not ease, then
some tangled strip search for truth leaves you
en route for dust, as by a blessing you’ll forget
even the rust red of the tank top you wore

the night you were raped while
elsewhere, your friends slept or drank and danced–
how you walked it to the dumpster, wept
and tossed it in (still, still sometimes, his lascivious
grin, that wrinkled dollar bill he left
in your ashtray) said goodbye to its ruched neckline, the tiny
buttons on the straps, your body

elsewhere, now, where all
the beauty went. Out there, you were surrounded
on all sides by dry hills so hot and brown and sexy
they could at any moment snap
into flame, and then all
the beauty goes again, lights up

like your best friend
torching that greenback with one hand, holding
you with the other.


About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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