Directions For My Daughter

Wear pale makeup when you do errands,
opening your backpack for the young soldiers
guarding every entrance to possible disaster.
You don’t want to be noticed.
Don’t ride the buses but if you do, check out eyes.
Applying your own makeup is good practice
for looking up close. See subtleties.
Recognize a stare as eyes that don’t want to
see the human face. Evil won’t be as obvious
as the Hells Angel who inserted a skull
in his pupil. Remember that?
You must always be ready. No timetable
exists for terrorism.

Don’t trust any sounds, not like my sitting
on this porch giving into the hum
of a fan or sweet bird calls. Hear the drums
in the distance. But choose to see
a rectangle of hope, steady
like the rows of maples and oaks I see.

Don’t linger. My own body makes a quick
twist to the left, and notices a fallen tree,
a huge mass that might have moved the earth
like a bomb.

Look in the mirror and apply camouflage,
a light covering of translucent foundation,
a pale salmon lipstick, maybe shave off
your eyebrows and apply a thin line. It might
surprise you to hear me say, don’t hesitate
to spend time with Dina who wears no makeup,
who trusts the steady sound of the waves.

This is a reprint of work originally published in A Girl.

Mare Leonard lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek in Kingston, NY. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College.

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