Baby makeup
by Kate Schapira

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Baby makeup

All my upper body
smells like baby makeup
——soft little cries
pull the covers crooked
around the plastic baby,
how little like a person
that something can rub off,
controlling reproduction.

It comes in wide stick form like an applicator. She gouges out globs with tiny nails for her cheeks, for her birthday, for my shirt and neck. Lips the birthday marker too till her mouth is a blue haven. Nontoxic washable sex for teenagers would be nice, I think, like candy.

Spring has come to babies
like a stubborn oil
around a pill-like belly
—whose home is the womb?
And whose home is pleasure?
Which outweighs the other
at five foot eleven
and a hundred eighty,
in this corner, five
foot one, maybe a hundred?
Why don’t you control yourself?
Urban legendary
voices circle daughters

where we go to wrap sex in a dark surrogacy, blaming the blanket on mothers’ lack of plastic baby information. This is the revised version of thickness, permission, censure. These swathe and tighten; these stretch and pull out,

harbor information,
pink and shining refuge
for the accusations
of a second baby—

cotton candy perfume
odors come from esters’
smell of plastic sugar
stains a local shoulder
the color of disquiet
will not be consoled—
baby of departure,

who should reproduce
the process of pink makeup?
Baby goes to baby
sparkling with intention,
pitted organ surface,
porous baby cheeks—
we want to be at ease.

In perfect knowledge of the body conception is what it does, cysts close like bad flowers at night. Fragrant hole through the middle of the baby the pursed lips and strategic leak. There’s a daughter silk strife pinch group of hair who will let this happen. From family to family the makeup must enter,

open to admit
the baby’s other author
inscribe the baby substance
with lipstick of the future
etch the flesh with oils
when you feel in darkness
moistened parts of skin,
a future held in babies
born with all their ova,
making up the quota
of hormones in the water

in the interest of protecting daughters from sons, in the interest of the population. An exclusion: fear and ignorance of sex like a large hand that used to come down to be blamed. Replace it with a worn, vacant, inflamed look? A family to me means lots of kids, a boy means dark exerting matter, substance accumulates in shelter, there’s a lot of it, all the ways we protect what we want from happening.

Penetrating safety
to have the conversation
every time we open
a new negotiation
waiting for the baby
to close her sticky lashes
above her gleaming future
—She helps me out already—
voice of makeup blinking
in magic stimulation.

Days of making baby
perform a makeup function
a personal decision
crawling over babies
in an egg-and-spoon race

prophecy depends on so many things: that the mother not sicken, that the father not thrive, that the wobbling baby of events not be forced through the pet door, but makers of comments are comfortable with it, every one a social scientist, a gynecologist and an oracle. They feel free, but they aren’t free; pink clamber trails cover their limbs;

sticky body shimmer,
what is a decision?

A flux of salts. Someone comments on success: you can get it to dissipate because it’s subcutaneous. Pink tissues wadding in darkness. Continuity’s ready to swaddle in cooing voices, explain to the baby in half-measures: you came from a little soft round threat,

teenage automatic
earnest and exhaustive
a perfect cave of knowing
the weight of other bodies
at the rim of substance,
underneath the nail-rims
evidence of culture /
imminence of danger
threatening the future
with contact information
delivered by the senses
—the confidential hotline:

whose home is the future?
The arms of disappointment
reach out for the baby
cotton candy clinging—
the future smells, days later.