"Designs by Elouise" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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"Designs by Elouise"


They should have been my warning

Those streaks of blush

The color of an ocean sunrise

Coming up unevenly over each hollow cheek.

The walls of her shop,

The counter tops, the mirror, the vacant drying chairs

Were all covered

In that way that only emptiness can cover a room.

The yellowed credentials: "Greensboro Beauty College 1948."

The styling charts circa 1972.

Photographs, tape-marked

Their subjects faded.

An ashtray filled with pennies.

From somewhere indistinct the "coo coo" "coo coo" of a clock

Defies the hour's anonymity.

"Oh dear me, is it that late already? Where has the day gone?"

Sunrise to sunset

Time sat undusted on every surface

The assorted icons to other people's memories.

The room was a wedding band

And the bridegroom never did appear.

People walked past her shop carrying newspapers.

At home, her cat purrs alone.

She hadn't had a customer in weeks

Or a lover in years

So I sat patiently

As she fumbled for a comb,

And talked,

And snipped,

And clipped,

And showed me pictures of other people's grandchildren

Leaving my hair as sparse

As beach grass

Under the blush of a setting sun.

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