Ornate Persona

By Jeanine Stevens

Bow lips burnished bronze, lids violet or sable,

Is face the body’s icon? colorized

flesh: blue, red, black,

eyes swimming in gold flecks?

 

On stalwart stems, face of the rose

rests her head above threadlike roots,

black tangles resembling witches’ hair.

 

The real body—turbulent, defiant.

In grief, feelers find their way to epidermis

—wince, sunken eye, pursed lips,

universal grimace,

universal prosopon.

 

A mystic once said, “Wear a mask too long,

find you have no face.”

 

The ornate Venetian: Salome, Scaramouche,

Capricornus— how many years will they last,

peeling, sloughing through time?

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.


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