1. Cleanse
Don’t think about what’s happened as you slept:
Those tiny oil wells have worked all night.
No matter how fastidious or adept
you are at picking every pore in sight,
You nodded off, and drool now crusts your lip.
Your eyes are filled with gunk, and there’s a blot
of old mascara. Time to take a dip
and see what comes loose when the water’s hot.

2. Exfoliate
It’s like the way they make new jeans “distressed”
with stones and acid, punishing the new,
so you look “broken in,” not sharply dressed.
The fact is, if you’re over 22,
this battlefield is dull with corpses, cells
that die, and lie in shallow graves and creases,
(the thought of this is why the damn stuff sells)
and why you scrub your blameless face to pieces.

3. Moisturize
Now what you’ve just removed you now replace:
Synthetic, sweetly smelling stuff that’s strong
enough to block the very sun, in case
you’re in plain sight. They’ve said it all along:
You can’t have too much moisture. (Not like tears,
saliva, sweat – all that’s just too uncouth)
but something to restore our childishness
and keep us dewy, clueless, young, and smooth.

4. Foundation
They say that beauty is a freakish dearth
of all surprises. Let’s assume they’re right,
and pave this pocky, rough terrain. It’s worth
the tan stain on our collar (we wore white??)
and the way the porcelain ends below our chin,
our neck, too red. Our face is what they’ll see,
so cover that, and let no stranger in.
This liquid bhurka signals modesty.

5. Blush
Oh, stop it. Really. Stop it! You’re too much!
We shield our laughter with our fingertips.
We’ve heard this line a million times. Now touch
his arm, and feign annoyance. (Hands on hips.)
Our blood stopped flowing years and years ago;
We brush off our ennui with a puff of pink,
and close our eyes, just tired of saying no.
And live in shame for choosing not to think.

6. Powder
Like ashes, ashes, gently falling down,
like snow, confetti, drifting, settling, still,
a tiny sandstorm; here’s the finish: blown.
Our cover, made from what’s been through the mill,
is reduced to its composite molecules.
Now every imperfection is a dream
from which we have awakened, all the rules
unwritten. We’re transformed. We’re what we seem.

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