Margo Taft Stever

Beloved Child

         Emmaline M. Fore
         Cincinnati, Ohio, 1859
         Found Poem

This letter traced
by a dying hand; no less
motive could nerve
this sinking frame.
When these lines
meet your eyes, my child,
the mother of your infant
love will long since
have passed from earth.
These words you can never
know the heart-breaking
pang it costs this mother
to utter, unless it should be
at some time your fate
to pass through the same
fiery furnace.

That you have the tenderest
most discreet of earthly fathers
removes half this trial.
Both deeply mourn
the loss of that friend,
which can never be
repaid on earth. You will read
much of a mother’s love,
but will never estimate
what you have lost. That near
friend to whom you have
always poured out your infant
joys and sorrows and whom
in growing years you would have
still reposed on just the same,
you will now let go forever,
unconscious of your loss.

Beauty Parlor

A pedicurist clips a hang nail
from a client’s big toe while Monsieur Marc,
cultivated Belgian, whittles away at her hair.

He praises botox—only five injections—
her wrinkled face now full and taut.
In 1905, “blondined” hair was scandalous.

Over a century later, I’m trying to make mine
as platinum as possible—bleach out, then blend with
the gray growing in, cut down on visits and cost.

While I stamp out outward signs of age, my stylist,
a striking woman who was recently a man,
talks about her boyfriend in a soft, masculine voice.

On the corner below, at Lex and 28th,
we observe a woman, blond hair straggling—
like Marilyn’s on her way down—

but this woman’s roots have grown in, three inches
of black. “What a shame!” exclaims Monsieur Marc.
The woman stumbles, gropes the trash can—

body bent over, off balance. Oddly leaning she careens,
wobbles into the street. Bus brakes screech.
She hawks green phlegm.

“Must be on crack,” says one client.
Monsieur Mark wonders, “Why doesn’t she
do something with her hair?”