Beauty Recovery Room

by MIKKO HARVEY

 

 

                after Ji Yeo

 

After the lasers and scissors and needles and pills,
men need a place to go, a place to feel safe
and temporarily normal before reentering
society radically beautiful. It is a kind of hotel, 
full of natural light, and nobody is supposed to feel
ashamed of their scars. Of course we feel ashamed anyway,
but it's also a time of excitement as we watch
our bodies realize their ideal shapes, our wounds
gradually heal, our new hair grow. There are several
exotic plants which the Surgeon recommends
we contemplate re: not getting trapped inside
a static conception of beauty. My favorite
is the prickly orange one whose flesh somewhat
resembles my post-op scalp. All in all, 
things are going well, except that my friend Max
is fully recovered, so he's leaving. We used to stay up
late watching crime dramas. We both had nightmares
about being chased by giant insects. Don't worry
he said. Once you get out, we'll go out for drinks. 
We'll just be two guys with perfect jawlines and balls
that hang symmetrically.
This was a relief to hear
because I'd been scared Max wouldn't want
to be friends anymore in the outer world. 
You're led to believe certain ideas growing up, like beauty
changes people—but that doesn't have to be true. 
When I get out of here, I'm gonna take
that prickly plant with me, so I never forget. 
When I get out of here, I'm gonna take a taxi
straight to my father's grave and curl up beside it
and sleep.