Decadence

She puts on her makeup
A little too much she things
But the way the other ladies do—
White powder and rose-perfect lips
Ameliorate her flaws

She arrives at the dinner table,
Ten minutes early but an eternity too late,
Receives unctuous approbation from the others—
Her beautiful dress, flawless hair
She thanks them, gives them each a fast-melting smile

She listens to their hackneyed gossip,
The jaded refugee of too many parties,
She feels she is an interloper,
Not belonging, not wanting to belong,
But for her mother’s sake,
She will ingratiate herself,
Agree with the crowd,
Suppress her growing petulance

She will come home when the day ends
Overcome by lassitude,
Pretending to be someone she isn’t
She will lock herself in her room,
And elicit her true emotions—
Frustration, anger, despair
Like a wild animal unleashed from a cage

And then at midnight, she will light another cigarette,
Standing on her balcony
And smoke because she cannot sleep

She will reflect on her life,
Realize that her years have been wasted
Thrown away, as she did her forgotten dreams

She will take a pill,
Assuage her despair,
And find sleep at last.





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