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.