Pretty’s not the word.
Her face, you can see all its parts,
but not at the same time.
That is to say, there is no
overall effect of it; or rather
the overall effect is that of
looking at a puzzle; and like
looking at a puzzle, maybe
you can squint a bit and lose
the lines between the pieces,
or let your gaze soften in a dim light
and see the whole, forgetting
for a moment how it was pieced
together. And interestingly enough,
she was pieced together, both
figuratively and literally. Figuratively
because against all odds she found
her birth mother living in England
and was then welcomed home
by her mother’s parents and cousins
to a farm in Tennessee;
and literally, because as a young woman
she survived a terrible car crash and was
pieced slowly, excruciatingly, back together.

Hers is a Humpty Dumpty face
that by a miracle, became
almost but not quite whole again,
so the whole-making for her had to
happen from the inside out and press
itself into outside forms, into outside
puzzle pieces: pieces of songs into
songs, pieces of color into paintings,
bits of blood and bone into a woman;
pieces of love into a heart.

Now look at her again, more closely.
See what I mean?
Pretty’s not the word.
Beautiful is the word.

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