An Elegy to Waterproof Mascara

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Don’t cry, they tell us.
But if you must,
be sure to look pretty doing it.
Emotional discretion now comes in a tube
so you can paint on indestructibly perfect coats,
little gatekeepers to lock away the evidence that you cried.
And should you let it out,
you risk confining yourself to the caricature of the Crying Girl,
(Streaky-faced, probably sitting in a bathtub somewhere).
Because as everyone knows, there is a fine line between
Emotional wreck.

But moderation was never my strong suit,
I am a floodgate and never a trickle.
A saltwater plumbing problem to be solved,
In airports,
During movies,
And, God forbid, even funerals –

“Don’t cry so much,”
says my grandmother’s oldest friend, half kindly, half fiercely,
pulling me to her chest to muffle the sound of my grief.
Because pain should only ever leak from us, not pour.
Because an open wound cannot possibly be worn with dignity –
is it any coincidence that the words “hysterical” and “hysterectomy”
have the same Greek root?
For every woman who wears her heart on her sleeve,
there is someone handing her waterproof mascara.

I think about those ladies in the Ancient world,
how they used to weep for hours on end,
and I wonder why we ever stopped.
Who caged those oceans inside us, deciding they were not our stories to tell?

So today, I am twisting the lid back on the tube,
nailing it shut and lowering it into the ground.
I am pulling the cork off my bottled up tears
and using them to water the roses I will lay
on the grave of every heartache I have ever buried:
Every raw emotion I have ever apologized for.

Kate Bonnett is an Australian writer, actor, and recovering navel-gazer. She currently lives in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she spends her time making coffee and covering things in glitter. You can find more of her writing at @katemarigoldpoetry.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN