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I've been chain smoking,
have sprayed my hair so many times
you may call me helmet head.

I didn't do the dishes;
poets do not have
dishpan hands.

The red nail polish
on my ring finger smeared;
I carefully removed it with a Q-tip
then repainted, steady as a surgeon.

I put my pantyhose in the freezer
because I'd read something
about rearranged molecules
preventing runs.

I could wear the open-toed slip-ons
and risk walking out of them
or the black velvet pumps
I'd only worn once.

With the skill of a portraitist
I worked with pots of paint,
powdered shadows and lipstick.
When the likeness was complete,
you couldn't recognize me.

My extemporaneous speech was glued
to the inside cover of my book,
poems I would read, stuck to the back.

At three p.m. I began trying on clothes
(felt like a movie star);
where was my trailer?

I made the mistake
of wearing my husband's choice.
"Fifteen years out-of-date,"
my daughter said,
but we were already five minutes late.

      — Teresa White