Denise Duhamel

(1961 / Woonsocket, Rhode Island)

Snow White's Acne


At first she was sure it was just a bit of dried strawberry juice,
or a fleck of her mother's red nail polish that had flaked off
when she'd patted her daughter to sleep the night before.
But as she scrubbed, Snow felt a bump, something festering
under the surface, like a tapeworm curled up and living
in her left cheek.
Doc the Dwarf was no dermatologist
and besides Snow doesn't get to meet him in this version
because the mint leaves the tall doctor puts over her face
only make matters worse. Snow and the Queen hope
against hope for chicken pox, measles, something
that would be gone quickly and not plague Snow's whole
adolescence.
If only freckles were red, she cried, if only
concealer really worked. Soon came the pus, the yellow dots,
multiplying like pins in a pin cushion. Soon came
the greasy hair. The Queen gave her daughter a razor
for her legs and a stick of underarm deodorant.
Snow
doodled through her teenage years—'Snow + ?' in Magic
Markered hearts all over her notebooks. She was an average
student, a daydreamer who might have been a scholar
if she'd only applied herself. She liked sappy music
and romance novels. She liked pies and cake
instead of fruit.
The Queen remained the fairest in the land.
It was hard on Snow, having such a glamorous mom.
She rebelled by wearing torn shawls and baggy gowns.
Her mother would sometimes say, 'Snow darling,
why don't you pull back your hair? Show those pretty eyes?'
or 'Come on, I'll take you shopping.'
Snow preferred
staying in her safe room, looking out of her window
at the deer leaping across the lawn. Or she'd practice
her dance moves with invisible princes. And the Queen,
busy being Queen, didn't like to push it.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Friday, December 23, 2011

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