After supper most nights
I go downstairs to the small bathroom.
First I look in the mirror
remembering all the frustrations and unfairness
and all my mistakes and sins.
I look for imperfections on my face,
squeezing until I draw blood.
I feel triumphant
getting rid of what’s wrong
and even destroying what’s okay.
In my Sassy magazine
a girl wrote a question to the editor—
“Is something wrong with me
if I enjoy picking on my face?”
I shivered while I read, thrilled
that someone else knows the feeling.
The editor called it “picot”
and urged her to get professional help.
But the classmates I know who received counseling
are treated like they carry hydrogen bombs.
I already feel strange enough.
When I turn off the light
and use the toilet as a seat
listening to the same cassettes in order:
James Taylor, Don McLean,
and I save the best for last:
R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”
This song helps me hold on
when I want so badly
to let go forever.
Even though I feel so very alone
I know at least one person,
the writer of this song,
exactly understands my pain.
Finally I turn on the light
and use my handheld mirror
to take comfort in my hair,
twirling the curls around my fingers
and petting its softness.
My great-grandma had the same curls.
When I visit her she takes my hair in her weathered hands
and treasures it like something precious.
It’s the one part of me
I know is beautiful.
When it’s time for bed
I hide my puffy red eyes
under my hair’s dark curtain
and I climb the steps
pretending nothing is wrong.