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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2010 - Vol. 7, Issue 4


written by

Laura Hershey

One adolescent Halloween,

I wore creamy foundation,

rouge and mascara painted thick;

scarlet silk, starlight silver,

nylons on my knotty knees --

carefully constructed joke:

floozy femininity.


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!"

Author Blurb

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