Averill Curdy

When I Was Beautiful

I was forgiven my raucous laughter.
Wedding guests
feasting like wasps
on soft-skinned fruits and sweetened wines,
even as a noise
more appallingly intimate
than thunder shocks some foreign air
into tiers of voile.
Leaves shuddering from trees;
the body harrowed of will.
My sister
was safe when I was beautiful.
I wore departure,
a jet’s con-trail, the initiate’s reserve, a veil
of salt sowed over enemy orchards.
Danger drew me because I was beautiful.
I thought everyone heard
the voices I could, calling my name. The dead
needed me.
I’ve been so busy. So beautiful was I
my dress was the desert
where the ghost of moisture prowls
the rooftop sleepers, where dawn is kissed
without heat and cities gleam
like pearls.
Jealous morning. Who stole
my dreams. Which took from me
old men and families
strolling that unfamiliar promenade
as I calculated velocities,
angles, routes
of escape, while
the truck drove into us, exploding.
I believed all the experts, who said
that in her own dreams
the dreamer couldn’t die.
Put away the pictures—they never show the face
in the mirror. The sun was still in my eyes
when I was beautiful.

Averill Curdy
“When I Was Beautiful” first appeared in The Kenyon Review, Winter 2007.