One eye blank white, her ear nibbled by time,
she stares at us elliptically. And I’m
half-worried, if the stucco fell away
revealed the stone beneath, people would say
that was the true face, that the royal court
had her nose straightened, that the sculptor fought
in vain for truth. His final judge the queen,
no longer quite as young as she had been,
ordered her ideal self. Sometimes we choose
that youth, that loveliness we’re bound to lose
to freeze in time. Her cat-like knowing stare
laugh-lines carved deep, arched eye-brows and her hair
shaved off – truth shows most gorgeous in a mix
with artifice. All beauties know these tricks.
Later I ought to add that this is in part a response to Nina Arsenault’s posting of the bust as a Facebook profile and her creative work around her own cosmetic surgeries. One of her photos here specifically references the bust.