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beauty

Weeding the Body

God spare you the judgment of a fifteen-year-old girl. Recently, one whom I like a lot showed me some pictures of her classmates, slowly swiping left, submitting them to my sentencing and her own. She paused at one photo and used her fingers to zoom in. “She pulls out her hair,” she confided, her voice low with disgust. “It’s so gross.” I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and I told her so. “Her eyelashes,” she said. Indeed, eyelashless, the girl’s face looked slightly bare and denuded, unnerving but not exactly unattractive. I told my friend to go easy. “I just don’t understand why she can’t just stop,” she said, dismissing in an instant both her classmate’s physical appearance and her personal fortitude. Without her eyelashes, this girl was functionally nothing. 


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Illustration by Anna Sudit

The News From the World of Beauty

In late summer of 2017 I was at an artists’ colony in rural Virginia. A hot topic of conversation among the artists there was how we were reading the news, and how often. Some of the artists at the colony were reading the news obsessively every morning, either because they were addicted to it or because they felt it was their social responsibility to stay informed about the invariably breathtaking choices of our current president and those who surround and respond to him. Some artists were ignoring the news altogether—every headline, every scandal, every tweet—choosing to entirely suppress the outside world during the span of the residency. The rest of the artists stayed lightly informed, but consciously attempted to prevent the news of the world from gaining much purchase on their inner lives.

Dearest Eros,

I did this to myself, I know. You are not mine
but come as wind clotted with the end of a season. 
Did you know all a ginkgo’s leaves fall on the same day? 
Sometimes it’s called maiden hair. For its beauty. 

Against Vanity

Away from the cruel magnification
            of a shaving mirror, I clean up well.
I am content with orange teeth and salty
            skin, with having borrowed my beauty 

            from the ocean. See my kelpy eyes, the pearl
on my tongue? Flatter me, flatterer! I still care 
            about dignity, like a blindfolded duke
being led to the gallows. It’s hard not to smile 

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

Nashua

I had driven to Nashua to look for farmhouses. I was researching abandoned farmhouses and wanted to find a part of New Hampshire with both rural and urban poverty.