He wears a white coat, he is
fabulously smooth, clear, and tan,
he is handing me the mirror,

He is asking about my face,
what I see here at 1000 Park Avenue
in my fiftieth year.

“Take it from the top,”
he says, smiling, and I smile, too.
This is what I came for.

In the brow — well, honestly?
Worry, anger. Ringing the eyes,
exhaustion, even fear, a bruise.
Around the mouth, reproach
and bitterness. And framing the chin,
disappointment like a flat tire.

He nods, happy.
We see it together: not age,
but emotion!

Now I understand why no one says,
“You look old.” No,
old is not the problem. It is
anger, fatigue, bitterness.
It is that it has been such a long day.

That evening in front of my own mirror,
I reflect, a little bewildered,
on what I have seen —
this constant announcement to strangers
that I have spent much of this last, long night
up crying. For any woman in her right mind
what I am considering is more taboo
than answering an S&M personal, but damn!
I am tempted. Vanity? Buying back
youth? No, but something youth
never questions: the ability to walk into a room
once more, with one’s own hard-earned secrets