This skin is not Prada,
Gucci or Versace—
it was purchased in purgatory
at the Gap Outlet on the corner.

Stitched tight in the flesh suit,
I became a mirror gazer,
a Snow Queen,
how I’ve loathed that cast-back face.

All day stealing into bathrooms
to sneak weary peeks
at my ravished portrait—
watching age etch its many mars.

At first the changes were subtle,
a spot here, a pock there—
the facial geography
slowly shifted with time.

I did anything to be designer then—
washing and washing to fade,
desperately stitching on labels,
and tearing twin holes in my newness.

Never able to copy them properly,
finally, only tatters remained,
and every mirror mocked me—
sticking out its tongue at my attempts.

What a fool my reflection has been,
always focused on what I lack—
regardless we end up pressed together
on the same second-hand rack.

© Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review.