Elizabeth Clark

Thalia and Melpomene 

My false face was made for you. 
Carved from brittle bones 
And saccharine smiles, 
The deception covers tear tracks. 

An empty mirror reflects back. 
Thunderous applause and deafening cheers,
I’ve become a haunted specter, 
A living sacrifice for your desire. 

Does my performance please you?
Utterly unrecognizable now, 
Every flaw has been painted over,
Hiding behind poisonous pigments. 

Let the chemicals eat me away. 
Skin translucent and spirit gone, 
I let myself fade behind the facade
Content to be hollow so long as I am held. 

Identity lost and existence unknown.
Who am I? What is my name? 
Why are you still clapping? 
What have you done with my face?

Smaller Still 

Years spent binding my body and compacting my bone smaller still,
Mold me into perfection that can never be known. Smaller still. 

Carved into contortion, I swallow pain to shrink skin
To be so light I could break: fragile, delicate, thin, smaller still. 

How important is breathing when there’s praise in my lungs?
Better lovely than living, at least while I’m young. Smaller still. 

Opinions are acid that burn holes in my throat. 
Smile gently; teeth rot and judgements corrode. Smaller still. 

Applaud the beauty of torment and the glamor of hurt,
My vision now darkens as death and I flirt. Smaller still. 

For my skeleton grin and dull, phantom eyes, 
The crowd’s hallowed glory makes an easy disguise. Smaller still. 

My skin is translucent, fading into a ghost. 
Life decayed and now dimmed, to nothing, almost. Smaller still. 

Years spent breaking my body to stay still and stay small
Have devoured me whole, now I’m nothing at all.

Oh to be Mused 

Oh to be mused 
To be painted into poetry 
In which words tumble off of the page 
To form the curves of my body 

Oh to be noticed 
To captivate caring caresses 
Gentle tracing of my hands like they’re holy
Memorizing every swirl of my fingerprint 

Oh to be fated 
To be loved as if it was inevitable 
Hands and bodies slotted like puzzle pieces
Content to live in the peace of shared soft breaths 

But I am uninspiring 
Painted only in judgment 
Rumors roll off of my shoulders 
To form shadows that follow me 

And I am unseen 
Hands only held to be pushed away 
Never pondered or pictured or dreamed 
My fingertips freeze in their loneliness 

So I am undestined 
The universe had written me off entirely 
Rough and sharp-edged with no one to sand me down
I sit in stale air with my own breath echoing back. 

I go unloved.

About the Author: Originally from Philadelphia, Elizabeth Clark is a freshman at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She is currently studying English and Political Science. Her poetry has previously been published in BridgeInk and she hopes to continue publishing her work! To her, womanhood is centered around the performance of femininity and the self-worth issues that come with that performance. Her struggle with these issues has inspired much of her writing and she hopes that readers will be impacted by her perspective.