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"I Remember Being Beautiful"

My lovely, lineless face
was my birth right.
I painted a large red heart
on each cheekbone,
blackened my lashes

with soot and spit,
and circled my head with pale carnations.

I rubbed oil of sandalwood
between my breasts and shoulder blades
and had a blue unicorn tattooed
inside my left thigh.
I learned to speak Portuguese
at night school,
and I developed a passion for
chocolate and poetry.

One morning in front of the
downtown post office
an old, old man
pressed his mouth against my ear and said,
"Hello, good lookin'."

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Joan Hoffman grew up surrounded with poverty and guilt. She wrote little rhymes about the Lady of the Moon and dreams made of gossamer, and was considered odd. A ranch wife since the early forties, she and her husband worked experienced heartbreak and joy while raising two children. "I Remember Being Beautiful" was published in the 1990 anthology Graining the Mare: The Poetry of Ranch Women.

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