Caroline Lazar

Look Good Feel Better (Be Worse)

They are the kindest of women,
beauticians, beautiful outside and in,
who give up free afternoons for the cancer victims
and send the patient patients home
with painted-on smiles.
At workshops called 'Look good, feel better',
they volunteer to show how
to make artful eyebrows when
the chemotherapy kicks in.
Michelle Obama even came to visit.
L'Oreal, Elizabeth Arden, Lancome,
all give treats to the goody bags
the victims take into an uncertain future.
Two hundred pounds' worth-
how generous you think they are,
until you read the small print-

methylparaben is there to stop the mould,
but the small print does not say
parabens mimic oestrogen
and tumours drink the stuff like wine.
One toxicologist at AstroZeneca
weeded his bathroom cabinet,
wanted colleagues to protect their daughters too.
He did not say the trade has a long history-
from elegant bottles and jars
Queen Elizabeth applied the mask of youth,
white lead and arsenic.

Get out your magnifying glass and look what's
lurking on the old familiar bottles.
Shampoo, moisturizer, suncream, search them all.
Perhaps you will dodge bullets from the smoking gun.
Perhaps you will find false friends in time.
Perhaps you will be lucky,
Perhaps you will stay beautiful, outside and in.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, March 22, 2012

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