Heather Qin

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Heather Qin

In Which I Do my Makeup in the Rain

And cover my face so the white doesn’t wash off.
I was good at hiding my teeth & my voice. At the
twenty-four hour drugstore, I pocket the most

expensive shades, the overhead lights flinching off
the lip of the bottle. I dream in camera filters
and fitting rooms. Where else do we learn to

undaughter ourselves, softening our bodies into
glass. It’s January and already my cheekbones ghost
under my skin. I try on prom dresses after hours

and preach paper cup diets, girls on TV. Because
here, we measure ourselves in right angles. Maybe
it’s better this way, when we mistake beauty for safety

and dress up just to stay at home. In middle school
ballet class, my teacher would watch us through
the mirrors, moaned how she could see my lunch.

I didn’t look any different, but felt shame pooling in the lap
of my collarbone. These days, I find myself glancing at
my braids in the rearview mirror, hoping someone will

find me. I want to chisel myself into street lamps and stain
glass window sills, trade this face for something
worth protecting. I hung up my pointe shoes and thought

it’s better now that I quit. My ballet teacher said that
people who live in the past aren’t living. I believe it all.

Heather Qin reads “In Which I Do my Makeup in the Rain”


Heather Qin