Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Makeup

Pamela Davis
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Fall 2011)

Blind now, my mother tilts her chin up, closes her eyes
to receive the liquid foundation I stroke across her brow
as if bestowing a benediction. The last time I touched her
face my fingers were small, her glamour a mystery.
I smooth and blend the beige into fissures bracketing
her eyes, nose, and mouth. Her makeup drawer releases
shimmering clouds of powder that rise and sift back
down. Strands of dark brown hair are lacquered to
the wooden bottom. Her arsenal of jars, pots, and wands
are used up, colors outmoded. A dried-out crater of rouge
cedes a dab for both cheeks, her skin gives way under my
fingertips. Here is her lipstick—Cherries in the Snow—
worn flat to the rim. I swab enough to redden her mouth.
She rolls her lips together spreading the color. I say we are
done and hold a mirror in front of her face. She turns her
head this way and that, pretending to see herself beautiful.