By Chrys Tobey

Our parson to the old women’s faces
That are cold and folded, like plucked dead hens’ arses.
—Ted Hughes

An old woman thought her face was a dead
hen’s arse. Maybe it was all the years
of plucking and waxing. The woman had no idea
what would make her think her face
was a dead hen’s arse and not a live hen’s
arse, and why the arse and not the beak, but
she did. It couldn’t be my age, the woman thought.

It couldn’t be the men, not when everyone knows men
love older women, especially much older, especially
with all the grandma porn, all the old women sex
costumes, all the men who ogle elderly women in walkers.
She had read so many books where men longed
for older women, where old women seduced helpless
wide-eyed men. She saw billboards where old women
modeled teenage clothing, modeled Brazilian
bathing suit bottoms. And she knew the trend: folding
wrinkles into one’s face using a Dumpling Dough Press.

People would stop her and take selfies. You look
like a movie star,
they’d say. They wouldn’t leave her alone.
She’d shrug. Maybe it was the way she’d sometimes cluck
when she made love to her husband? This could be the reason
he’d whisper, One day I may trade you in for an older model.
Or maybe it was all the eggs she ate. Or her penchant for feathers.
Or how her mother used to call her my little chickadee. The woman
was unsure why she thought her face was a dead fowl’s
feces-extruding cloaca. She only knew she was tired
of seeing twenty-year-old men with women who could
be their grandmothers, old women who treated the men
like so many dimpled birds.

Chrys Tobey’s poems have been featured in Verse Daily and published in numerous journals, including the minnesota Review, Rattle, Ploughshares, and The Cincinnati Review. Her first book of poetry, A Woman is a Woman is a Woman is a Woman, was published in 2017 by Steel Toe Books. Tobey lives in Portland, OR, where she teaches and co-curates the reading series Women Writers Against Trump.

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