I stopped with the serious cosmetics –
foundation, blush, powder, all the eye stuff –
as a young nurse working back east
in an old brick hospital,
long wards cooled only by ceiling fans.
When the mask melted
and goo ran down my face,
dripped from nose and chin
to patients’ sheets and bandages
I’d had enough. Hustled to the bathroom
mid-shift to scrub my face.
That’s when I reverted to original skin.
I did keep lipstick, which I still wear
mostly to keep my lips from cracking.
For a long time the eyes
still got their gloss.
After neck surgery and nerve-damaged hands,
mascara, liner and shadow left my eyes peering
as if from a sad raccoon’s face.
I’ve grown comfortable in my own skin,
glad to put the masks away.
About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.