A Poem by Anu Mahadev

fair & lovely

pink. the wallpaper.
the dresses. the dolls.
chapstick, cherry flavor.
bracelets, earrings, bows.
the perfume, mom’s vanity.
maybe that designer dress?
no, it is too expensive.

teen vogue. cute boys.

diet pills. acne cream.
crushes. photogenic angles.
smile more. frown less.
cross my legs.
can I cut my hair?
no, grow it out.
but be sure to shave.

nail polish. pink doesn’t
suit me any more. am i
playing too much in the sun?
don’t — you’ll get too dark.
i might need a fairness cream.
but i must play indoors and run —
or i’ll get too fat. i don’t care
if models are airbrushed, i want
to look like that! you, hah!

reality check, you’re all brain.
stop looking in the mirror. let’s
get a dictionary for an 8-year-old.
understand ‘ugly’ ‘fat’ ‘ordinary’.
keep your eyes to the ground.

I am a 2016 graduate of the MFA in Poetry program at Drew University. I am part time editor of Jaggery Lit online and Woman Inc online. My work has appeared in a few journals: Reinventing Myths and Colors of Refuge.