Greenest
Sarah Crossland


                     On the set of The Wizard of Oz, 1938

Every day the lights hot as a bear’s breath—
the bulbs, like blind glass

             eyes, lined up along the makeup mirror
sputter, tint, and blink.
                                   I sit still in my folding chair
while a man in glasses and an artist’s smock
gives me the nose of a huntress. Sponge-rubber,

beaked. Its single wart from which a horse hair
glouts—he pastes, then waits for it to take.
                                                           Under a cloak,
a sharp hat whose sash-wrap rips up the wind
the stage fans blast, I will be ugliest among

unugly things—the costumes and their velvet
paws, the poppy fields, the peach-dressed witch.
The evil in me shows
                                  by the shade they make
my skin: another pair of hands
                                                    presses a coarse cloth
down into the pot of paint and finds the bones
that mark my cheeks—
                                                              in the grease,
they grow darkly cast, shadows green as a piece
of copper lost, or the color of creeping, rot.  

the old actresses know it best: we are each
replaced by the disguise that brings us fame—

before this face, I had a woman’s name.

 

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