Kitchen Table Lashes

“Don’t ask her about her eyelashes.”
My mother said
on a drive up to Boston. 

“What do you mean?”
prickles of curiosity. 

Lately my mother’s friend
had been crying through telephone lines
garbled by the pains of raising a daughter. 

Lately her daughter
had been pulling the fine hairs
straight from pink eyelids.

“She says that she’s an ugly girl.”
Her mother said to mine.

I scribbled in my notebook
as trees batted by.
Boston welcomed us
with a fanfare of foliage. 
The lashless girl was absent
when we first arrived.

We were instead shown a photo
of when Meryl Streep stopped by,
a private art studio
that painted mom’s heart green,
and a famous poet friend
who did me the service
of reading my first poem. 

I apologized, explaining
it was not a poem yet.
He frowned at me and said
“It is perfectly a poem
until you tell it that it’s not.”

I scanned for signs of the girl
but found only a landscape
with a figure trying to hide:
a boundless tumble
of dark brown hair
shrouding slender bend
of body like a willow. 

That night it was too cold to sleep
so I imagined weeping willow girl
pulling filament intruders
from the soft rims of her eyes
like so many cacti splinters. 

In the dark,
I tentatively tugged.
Nothing budged.
Yank.
Holy hell.
Is that what calyx feels
when we pluck petals to
“he loves me…”?
Probably not. 

The next morning thawed
with avocado toast
and sunlit tea
In slipped the girl.
prickles of curiosity.

The "ugly girl"
was a quiet thing of beauty.
Pale boston,
eyes that matched brownstones
and stared back 

bare.

My ownlids felt heavy
and quickly fell. 

On the kitchen table,
a scattering of lashes
formed the question
I wasn't supposed to ask:

Who was it that told you
that you were not a poem?