Writers Institute


Roxanne Halpine ’01

Ever since she was twelve or so
and a man laughed at her in the drug store,
she has been plucking her eyebrows. It’s
a daily procedure: checking the space
between her eyes for new growth, tweezing
it away.  Sometimes she gets them waxed, then
watches red welts appear on the bare skin. 
For years she tortures her face.  Finally she decides
these eyebrows are far too much trouble.
Older now, sick of dreading her own
small hairs, she goes for electrolysis, shaping
hair by individual hair that will never
grow back.  They remove a little from the left,
little from the right, like clipping hedges
into dolphins, but her brows are never
quite even.  She goes for visit after visit till
she finally says, just take them off, take them
both off, and the nurse nods like he’s heard this
a thousand times before.  For a while
she stencils eyebrows on the bare worms
of her forehead, but grows tired of that too,
leaves her head blank.  Strangers try to figure out
what’s so odd about her face.  Her family
gets used to it in time, even proud.  When she dies,
the mortician draws eyebrows on her cold skin,
making them lofty, beautiful, one slightly arched
as if she’s pondering some great question. 

Originally published in Hawai’i Pacific Review, vol. 22, 2008.

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