Beautiful

Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith

The first beautiful I knew was my older sister. When she laughed, she had the kind of smile that took over her face until all it was was teeth and tear-stains. Un-plucked eyebrows and untamed curls unfurling in tousled tendrils like they did when she’d been running. Track-star long legs, shins that doubled as first class seats for my personal airplane rides,

“Fast or slow? Bumpy or smooth?” landing a tickle torture collision of fingers and flesh, laughter kicking itself out through all my

 

limbs

 

they grow longer, leaner, older, learn a new kind of beautiful. Untouchable ink stains on the pages of magazines,

tear if you clutch them too tightly. High-gloss glares ensnaring me with dares to look like them. Wrists like chopsticks.

Only good for holding

one bite

at a time

careful now!

they snap so easily.

Bamboo bones broken by their own weight, told,

stand up straight!

all the time, never sleeping.
But I’d gladly break my bones and bind my feet for the feeling of focused eyes following my footfalls, making me feel beautiful.

 

I want so badly to be beautiful.

 

I try and all I feel is tired. I balance on lily-feet and all I have are blisters.

I eat one bite at a time. And all I am is hungry. Still hungry.

I used to like the way things tasted, but now every bite tastes bitter, without the sweet.

 

And I’ve forgotten what it felt like to fly.

 

To run with thighs of thunder, hair alive with static. Electricity that lights my eyes up bright so you can see that the black of my irises and the black of my pupils are not the same black, but different, one is more black. I shut my eyes and the lights go out.

 

Living magazine lies, catalogue pages thrown away or faded.

The lights went out.

I am forgotten.

I’m afraid I forgot the other kind of beautiful.

 

My sister’s kind.

The kind that’s not afraid to shout, and be angry, and make a scene, and tear up Cosmo’s shiny lies that make girls sick trying to make men love them.

That’s not afraid to have eyebrows thick to better keep out the rain

from eyes that don’t smile just for cameras.

Lets her track-star long legs, thunder thighs, show muscle and meat, hair that ought not be there. Stretch themselves out exactly where someone was about to step.

 

She isn’t sorry.

 

She isn’t sorry

for laughing loudly

in a quiet room.

 

She isn’t sorry

for laughing loudly

in a quiet room.

 

By Gabrielle Sclafani, Contributer

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