Mitigation

By Craig van Rooyen

Featured art by Romina Farías

Somehow it’s good to know
the wildfires have not touched the face
of our local TV anchor
delivering her lines
with a touch of sadness that never approaches
despair, even as her bangs cascade
onto her forehead like evening clouds
descending the Coast Range.
I think of her in her dressing room
before she offers her face to us
the one that will help us fall asleep
while a line of flames somewhere far away
descends the ridge and licks into a kitchen,
melting the refrigerator magnets,
popping cans of spray oil, and setting
the dog out back to howling, jerking
against its chain.
I see her in front of the mirror,
surrendering to the ministrations of tiny brushes— 
a makeup artist leaning in like a lover.
Foundation first, an A-side attack
on brow furrows and laugh lines.


Then concealer to suppress the advance
of crow’s feet into the Botox buffer zone.
Within a half-hour, the spread of creases
and fissures 95% contained.
The brushes flit across her face
like prayer flags, and I can almost smell
the warm breath of the girl who sticks out
the tip of her tongue, leaning close
to line the boundary
where the fullness of a lower lip
begins its concave plunge
into smooth white chin.
Our TV anchor practicing her lines,
mastering her face.
We need to love her for this.
For the way she shows us how to keep
a chin from trembling, an eye from twitching
even while the chained dog
curls in on itself in the burning.


Craig van Rooyen’s poems has appeared in 32 Poems, Best New Poets, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Northwest, Ploughshares, Rattle, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. He lives and writes in San Luis Obispo, California and holds an MFA in poetry from Pacific University.

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