For William Butler Yeats

Before I get too old,
and full of sleep start nodding by the fire,
this story should be told:
the need is dire.

My freckled face at sixteen was still round,
its baby fat just starting to melt off.
My ears then picked up every sound,
from whir to whisper, even muffled cough.

No wrinkles then behind my batman shades,
or underneath forgiving turtlenecks.
No need those days for high priced hearing aids
or eye drops in my yearly vision checks.

Then driven by intense hormonal surge
I'd make sure all my lipsticks matched my nails.
A diet always kept me on the verges
of trimness to turn heads of passing males.

Yearning for the face bones of Maud Gonne
whose sunken cheeks attracted poet Yeats,
I'd suck in mine 'til they were all but gone,
then check my face in mirrors and glass plates.

This effort proved a total waste of time,
as passing years reduced my curves an flesh.
As hollow cheeked as Maud is not sublime
when faces are no longer young and fresh.

The moral of this tale is all too clear.
For those who yearn to reinvent the face:
the toll of years can make it thin and sere,
as nature's mask falls surely into place.

                                                --Ellen Hersh

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