Beauty by Tony Hoagland I found this poem to be both sad and uplifting. It tells the story of two sisters, one the butterfly perfectly shaded, finding all the most perfect flowers; the other one, the voyeur, in the background watching and amazed at the flight of the butterfly. The sister tells the story of how beautiful her sister had been until the medication she was taking caused permanent blue stitches that formed across her cheeks. The beautiful sister knowing that her beauty was gone forever, seemed to let it go like it was a burden to her for the longest time. After all those years of watching her sister nurture her beauty, the narrator knew more than anyone else what those tiny blue stitches would cost her sister.
The narrator reflects back to high school years when her sister had perfected the art of being a dumb blond, the way she stood in the breezeway tossing her “bedspring” hair.
“Laughing with that canary trill voice,” her specialty. There were hints of jealousy from these statements. She had a football player for a boyfriend, most likely the star of the team. He would do anything she wanted as you could tell from the “pained expression in his eyes.”
The beautiful sister didn’t date men; she held “auditions,” looking for the one man who had the attention span that would hold her interests. She looked for ten long years, and still was not married. In these times most women were married younger, but these women didn’t have my sister’s agenda. Mapping out her life events, confident that she could control them, she always thought she had the world in the palm of her hand. Then one day it was all over as quickly as the blue stitches on her face appeared. Now, the sister who once traveled in the same inner circle of the other beautiful women in magazines, the one’s that always thought that there beauty would always be there and safe, realized that for her there was no “safe” and there was no “always.”
Her sister watched the girls in the parade that were boarding the floats and reflected back to the moment when she too was boarding those floats and parading down the streets.
How quickly things change. She once cared only for beauty and how everyone saw her, but now and for the rest of her life, it was how inner beauty would carry her though life. There are many emotional, overtones and suggestion of connotation in this poem.
The line, “but I could see her pause inside a moment,” has a whole different meaning to it. It was the time when I thought reality had hit the sister for the first time. She tried to maintain a brave front, but this was the moment when it hit her, emotionally. As we see from the next statement, “As the knowledge spread across her face,” The word “spread,” has some overtones of suggestion to it. As she stood there, the narrator saw her face go flush with the reality that her beauty and what she thought was her identity, was gone. Another line that carried an emotional connotation was, “inhaling and exhaling the perfume of it,” how they, the beautiful women of the inner circle, live and breathe their beauty, like the most expensive air that money can buy. The line, “mulched bodies of their forebears,” has a strong meaning behind it. Mulched bodies represents all the women before them, the new girls that are ascending to the top of the mountain, walking on the beauties that have been and are now
“retired” from the professional ranks of women, who for one reason or another fell from the mountain top. The statement, “sucking the peach out of her lips,” has a few meanings to it. One would be the color of a peach, red and orange when very ripe, just like her lips have always been. The other meaning I could sense was her sucking on her lips, maybe to help from not crying. She couldn’t start crying because if she did, she might never stop. Remember she was a beautiful women and crying wasn’t an emotion that this circle of