From Emily Stokes
Love in the age of false eyelashes
The girls are killing for a new look. When they cry
they love the way their real tears drip from synthetic lashes
like rain in a gothic city. At night they are determined
to blink a little slower at the passers-by, to fall in love with one star
and remember it their whole lives. She says what’s the point of sadness
without a little sexy, without a little red turn in the hip?
I want to say sit down and take off those shoes: this moon is a metaphor
for an empty eye. This moon is a metaphor for a girl’s dumb wish.
As a young thing, she bent over her mother’s shoes but stepped
into her own, gold heels stuttering across the dirty kitchen tile.
That first time her face became a billboard, she learned to swallow
every cold thought she ever had. Learned that love was a dance
best performed with the long and marching shadow of yourself.
Like the rest, we don’t believe it all
but still we’re sprinting to the cathedral to catch
the noon show, his long legs angling like
a barrel monkey, mine like two stubborn twigs
remembering how to bend in the wind. We move
through the carved double doors making promises
to ourselves. Glide into the puritanical seating apparati
of bum-crushed pew cushions. All at once, the golden
pipe arches come alive, bathed in fuzzy incandescence.
The organist’s feet dance, orchestrating wind tunnels
that turn our chest cavities into little bells. Even the beating-
most heart could not have stayed put. Like fire whipping
from a giant’s hollow fingertips, my love bellowed its own
emptiness: turned the whole death shpiel into a veritable symphony.
Because what else will assemble the face of an invisible creature?
No better way to pedal through a horrible industrial dream
than to sing it from the rooftops, O glory, I’ve been changed.
Emily Stokes’ work has appeared in SLICE Magazine, Nimrod, The Westchester Review, and PANK. She received her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and serves as the Managing Editor for Madcap Review. She currently lives, works, and writes in Philadelphia.