Smudges

by Olivia Cipperman
art by Belle McDonald

Smudges art by Belle McDonald

I sing a line to life, to me, an ode that’s all my own,
I sing of many colors, which I smear across my skin.
I sing from my white bones and from the rainbow of
my soul,
And write the score upon myself so you can sing
along.

My first quest was a barbeque. Smoke and scent and
damp summer greenness, piled high on soggy paper
plates.
To hold my jeans, Hippolyta’s girdle–a golden belt
that cost four dollars
To glide across the sprinkler-dewy lawn, Mercury’s
shoes–my favorite pair of ratty flowered vans.
I’m wearing a warrior’s pigment
Dark eyes with the mess all around.
I’m showing off my power here
Purple glitter, black liner, dark and dark and dark.
I want to see. I want to be seen by EVERYONE. I glare.

I sing of black eyeliner, sharp as twin spears.
I sing of smudgy lipstick, matte or dark or gold gold
gold.
I sing of too much highlight, patted EVERYWHERE. I
glitter.

The second quest was Delaware, the stage within the
woods. We entered together, gluing the stars to our
skins.
Above my knees, a tiny dress–for I am prismatic and
flighty as Iris.
Below my feet, a muddy ground–it stains to remind
me I live.
I’m full of light and song and lemonade.
You can see it on the outside with the stars,
With the sparkle.
I am alive. I am in love with EVERYONE. I gleam.

I sing of sweat smudging my facepaint, charging
through the brush
I sing of the blue and pink shine on my nose, howling
along with a stadium crowd
I sing of diving headlong into saltwater, coming up
with inky tears smearing from my eyes.

The third quest was a snowy night, your scrunched-up face beneath my pen. Stay still! Stay calm! We are
both lightly trashed. It is only a trembling line, only a
ghost-laugh that echoes on tile, only a night made of
snow.
Across blue skin, a netted shirt–I am Khione, and I
fear no cold.
The spotlights make the snowflakes dance.
They’re dancing to my song.

I sing of your thighs pressed up against my knees,
your soft palm on my cheek, your fluttering brush a
butterfly upon my eyelids.
I sing of long walks in a perfumed coat, blue lids
matching a blouse that matches the sky.
I sing of a dark lip. I sing of a black heart. I sing of tiny
dots, golden stars, making pretty messes.
I sing, I scream, the elements of my own epic ode
I write my song and paint my words across my canvas
bones.

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