One adolescent Halloween,
I wore creamy foundation,
rouge and mascara painted thick;
scarlet silk, starlight silver,
nylons on my knotty knees --
carefully constructed joke:
I had my helper prop a faux-gold mirror
upon my homework desk.
She followed my instructions, coiffed
my flat brown hair with comb and spray.
She got into the spirit, laughed
with my outlandish transformation
as my curtained window filled with dusk
and children's sugar-thirsty voices.
No longer a child, I would wait
for dark to trick and treat.
Eight-thirty -- just before
my friends arrived -- we finished,
took off my brown-framed glasses.
I batted my black lashes
at my strange reflection:
china doll, society lady, classy whore,
or some part of each.
I might not outdo
the rest of the almost-too-old-for-candy crowd --
chainsaw slashers, suited grinning Carters --
but I would be among them,
hosts of unsubtle ironies
roaming our neighborhood streets.
My mother racked the last dish, shut
the dishwasher door, looked up
to see me looking at her, laughing
at myself and waiting.
As she stood, her eyes widened, pink lips parted.
Not amused, but amazed, she came and leaned
upon my wheelchair armrest, gazed
at my painted face,
touched a stiffened wisp of hair, spoke
flattering, fun-spoiling words:
"You look so nice!"