lipstick & other obsessions.
3 poems by Veronica Silva.
“she gives you linden to / quench the anxiety, chamomile for sleep, but these / remedies rooted in faith won’t cure a symptom of a / symptom. the deepest hunger you will ever feel is / the desire to be happy enough for other people.”
Artwork by Will Martyr.
lipstick & other obsessions
poem composed of lipstick shades
the therapist says I must be fine
because I don’t wear a bare pout—
bear with me— it is my obsession
to strip clementine from rind
pluck hair from chin, sebum from
skin, trim myself primrose
& proper— doctor, you should see me
on a brunch date, in a board meeting,
in the grocery line— I am chronically
overdressed. my kitten heels don’t
have time for this. I am dazed— in &
out of my daisy dress. I’m afraid
I have ginger snapped orange popped—
I feel rotten— wrought copper
penny sweating in a palm. I won’t last
very long in this oxidized crust—
would you like me apple crumbled, rust-flaked
clean? can you see me now? can you see?
abecedarian with loss of appetite
around the time you stop caring about
being alive, you also start avoiding solid food—
canned tomato soup & applesauce on
days the spoon can coax the suckle.
easier to stop eating altogether once your body
forgets the need for molar & stomach:
gummy white bread turned over & over by the tongue,
halting mechanism of an unwilling jaw, like an
infant refusing the breast. it’s not that you don’t want to,
just that you can’t. your grandmother sees your
knotted spine curl like a claw & says thinner
like she’s saying prettier. your body tries to
metabolize your mother’s prayers, but there is
nothing to nurse the shame of this condition. you
only want to say: look mom, i ate my veggies, my
plate is licked clean. she gives you linden to
quench the anxiety, chamomile for sleep, but these
remedies rooted in faith won’t cure a symptom of a
symptom. the deepest hunger you will ever feel is
the desire to be happy enough for other people.
until then, it’s easier just to say: i took all my
vitamins, i finished my plate. but you’re too
weak to do it on your own & even a child knows
xrays don’t work on something this empty.
you let her spoon feed you: little gelatin capsules of
zinc, st. john’s, valerian root hidden in a carrot purée.
i never regretted leaving this city until i was supine under
the artificial light of a strip mall salon.
natalie, acrylic hair claw
& gold flip flops, goes to work like i’m for the morgue:
sterilized tweezers & microscope. the girls talk shellac
manicure in their miami upspeak; syllables stick
& taffy-stretch. when i left, i kept mine
gum-cement under the desk. now watch this sorry
unsister rewet tacky wad between american teeth. my dumb
maw chews & this unhome carves itself
around me. i’m being
dramatic again— prosthetic lash & box dye sheen.
what a way to prove i could both leave & stay
me. come to realize what this nontongue already knows:
(somewhere downtown, a not-me mourns her own
transposed effect) i had to come back to notice i ever left.
The Blood Pudding – July 1, 2021
Veronica Silva is a Cuban-American poet who grew up in Miami, and currently lives in Orlando. She is the recipient of a Provost’s Fellowship from the University of Central Florida, where she is currently pursuing her MFA in Poetry. Her work has previously appeared in PANK Magazine and The Acentos Review.
Artwork: Martyr utilizes a mixture of his own photography and found imagery to construct complex and organized compositions. Martyr’s scenes, facilitate an exploration of our relationship to our domestic environment. The utopian views depicted in Martyr’s paintings, although formed from found imagery, present a dream-like world far beyond the realms of what exists in reality. You can find more about him here.