The Weather

The Secret Language of Eyebrows

Recently, returned with a small Macy’s bag
my mother accosts me in the kitchen, removing
her wig. She spills the bag’s contents—
eyebrow pencils: blonde, brunette, black.
“I just didn’t know where to begin?” she laughs.

Eyebrows are important. I have known this
since middle school, sneaking
mom’s tweezers, delighted by the pain
of sculpting an arch. Once, during college
my mother mailed me an article:
“The Secret Language of Eyebrows.”

On the deck that afternoon,
I hover around her with the pencils,
her bald head giving the sun back
to the sky. “See,” I say, returning the images
she’d sent years ago, “an arch too high
makes you look angry but ones too curved
make you seem sad.” But she hears
nothing, mesmerized by a hummingbird
braced at a fuchsia. “How can they stay so long
in one place?” she asks, a child’s desperation.

My mother’s face is poised, still
as a hummingbird, brow muscles curved
as if pleading. In the language of
eyebrows there is no word for this bending
up toward heaven. She asks
again: “Just stay like that in thin air,
in nothing?”

Elizabeth Bohnhorst's poetry has appeared in The Pinch, Camroc Press Review, Word Riot, The Austin Poetry Anthology, The Dunes Review, and elsewhere. She has a terrible short-term memory and would love advice on how to remedy this.