A poem by Laura Ruberto, “Illness and Vanity Reflected”

Illness and Vanity Reflected

I stare in a bathroom mirror looking for
my thick, bushy eyebrows.
The ones I rarely ever pluck.
The shapeless ones.
The ones men have either been repulsed by or coveted.
The ones I inherited from my father and passed on to my children.
The ones my sister fondly says, “look normal now”.
Now that they have become pencil-thin and sparse;
now that I find them scattered on my pillow,
wet with my tears,
marking a time away from myself.


Laura E. Ruberto co-chairs the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at Berkeley City College where she is a Humanities professor. She is the author of Gramsci, Migration, and the Representation of Women’s Work, the co-editor of Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema, and the translator of Such Is Life, Ma la vita e’ fatta cosi: A Memoir. Her creative writing has appeared in Drafthorse: A Literary Journal of Work and No Work and she keeps a blog, “Raccogli e Passa: Dispatches from California.”

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