The Cosmetologist
Pink perm rod puckered like a cigarette,
she lisps a little as she combs and rolls,
and doesn’t care who waits. She’s overbooked:
one in the chair; a row of patient souls
 
with heads in driers; several draped in smocks
like mutant jellyfish. The rest, sardines,
fill up the wicker loveseats, glad to chat
or eavesdrop, scanning last year’s magazines.
 
She’s talking to the mirror when she talks,
its surface framed with photos: kids as cute
as tutus, kickers, cloggers, dough-faced babies,
bow-head babies, babies dressed like fruit,
 
all wallet-sized. A sign above her lists
the fees for cut and color, manicures
and waxing (“brows and pits; bikinis extra”).
She draws good tips, although the job secures
 
itself: the do’s must be redone, new shades
of blond or bronze (“If you can’t tone it, tan it!”).
In here the atmosphere, abuzz with heat
and aerosol, suggests a cozy planet
 
outside of time. Forget the yawning gods,
she plugs a clear cosmology: big bangs
are out, she says, try layers; fringe benefits
a puffy face, revives a mop that hangs,
 
exhausted. Mostly, though, she helps control
old damage. Sure, she’ll hide dark roots or chop
dead ends, but she won’t promise miracles:
nobody’s reborn in a beauty shop.
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