Icarus Puts On Her Make Up

By Jess Rizkallah

I tied my hair into a ponytail
and when a strand on one side came loose
to frame my face, i felt beautiful
like an arab woman.

i pulled a strand from the other side
to match. a symmetry,
a mimicry. a rare allowance.
i could rouge my lips

and sigh. i could kneel
to pray. i could cross
my legs in the last pew
no one would know.

mountain mothers say battered knees
forfeit yr womanhood. be markless
and marked by shadow until the melted sugar
clears away the under, the brush, the blush.

hold the peach its bruise facedown.
divorce the body from its reflection in dirt. sever

the proximity to animalia. my kingdom
for a mane to call my own. my mane

for a throne i never asked for.
one day at the alter we will both wear crowns.
frankincense and myrrh. shroud me

in sequins
a plagiarized night
to fool the night. carry me
on your back

for as you slept i lined
each threshold
with salt.
in the dark

no one can tell
the gasp of fear
from the gasp of desire.
desire is just longing

wearing eyeliner.
my shoulders push up wires
where once were wings.
now with a brush i glitter them.

i present them to a man
of my choosing
his face flushed. once,
i was ashamed.

never knew these hairs vestigial, remnants
of angelic days when i could be the messenger
or the star above a birth, content
where hands can’t reach

my skirt unripped

but the fallen pray with battered knees
each scar a looking glass into the earth
tender sheens activating
the past

where once i raced a boy
and the asphalt claimed
a tablespoon of my flesh
the bone simmering

to forshadow the tingle
every time it rains. come summer,
a tangle of cells
obstructs my every close shave.

i remember the look on my aunt’s face
and her daughterless tongue.
her silent disgust as i cried.

i ran i jumped my wings obliterated
by the sun i fell i scarred i bled
i reflect but don’t repent
my skirts hemmed above the knee

not to betray
womanly obedience
but to remind you
that once i flew

i was an animal in the heat
i was better than any son.

i could have easily escaped
but for once i wanted
to win.

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