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i. her name was Pretty,
and she used to smile when it was snowing.
ii. I think at the peak,
she would hold my hand until
her fingers loosened and she fell asleep,
until her hardened eyes would droop and dip
I could carry her like she was nothing,
think she was made of smoke and
melted through my palms.
iii. she used to paint her lips
in heavy pink,
and I would watch with bated breath
while she lived up to her namesake;
she thought Pretty meant coating her eyelashes
and displaying her ribs.
I knew it meant when her eyes were kind,
blue veins prominently placed on her face,
when her laugh made her fall over
when the black tar that dripped from her mouth
was missing, if only for a moment.
iv. sometimes, when the lights were
low and she thought no one was looking,
she would stare into the mirror.
I think she forgot how to be
Pretty when she turned eighteen.
She did not smile at the sun, or the snow,
she did not glance at the passenger seat.
She held silver spoons in her shaking fingers
and let her glare burn holes in those who did not
fall in love with her.
v. she smelled like cotton,
and she was by far the most graceful person
I’d ever known; her skin was perfectly polished,
pale and unwrinkled as her feet walked softly,
one gently, overwhelmingly powerful presence;
it was an honor to walk by her side.
vi. she warned me,
“my name is Pretty, not Kind,”
and I think that I was aware
the whole time I was with her but
knowing something does not make it hurt less
and the sting of her slicing sarcasm was not dulled
by warnings ringing in my ears.
vii. people foretold the way
her tongue forked, her cruel words,
the way she whispered filth
but Pretty is not the devil.
The devil would not be so open
about his brutality;
Pretty bleeds like everyone else,
Pretty is blue-lipped and dying like the rest of us
Pretty is just trying to
believe her nomenclature.
viii. Everything between Pretty and her mirror
is collateral damage.