S&R Poetry: “Eyebrows,” by Elizabeth Ballou

and they say that’s how Brooke Shields landed
the 1980 spring issue of Vogue, after all –
before those eglantine eyes made her
a tabloid queen,
it was her brows
that floored the likes of Thierry Mugler
and Azzedine Alaïa:
those martial, luscious supercilia,
cutting across her forehead like
two thick rows of Idaho barley
in a pas de deux of susurrations,
two bisecting tire tracks
of a Ford trundling down backcountry roads,
or the lost brushstrokes of
Da Vinci’s masterwork.

nowadays we box and pin them
into draconian arches
or the flat lines of an electrocardiogram.
we beat them away with hot wax.
we trim them each morning in a ritual
as sure and constant as cleaning teeth.

sometimes I dream of putting away my tweezers
and letting my eyebrows jut together like the ‘v’
of far-off birds
in a five year-old’s landscape.
I think that maybe Frida Kahlo,
with her palm leaves and hummingbirds
and pomegranate-red lips,
had the right idea after all.

let us take again the case of Miss Shields,
legs encased in Calvin Klein blue jeans like
the two forks of a river delta
and those eyes like lighthouse beacons
and those voluptuous oak-branch eyebrows
which, my god, could just drive a person

Vivan las cejas, Miss Kahlo might say.
Long live those brows.


Elizabeth Ballou is in her first year at the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in the Claremont Review, Crashtest, the Adroit Journal, and Polyphony H.S., among others. In 2011, she was the recipient of the New York Life Award for her short fiction.

2 replies »

  1. Why do we obsess so much over hair? Men can barely have chest hair, never mind back hair. Women can’t have hair at all, except on their head. What gives??

    I say, let your freak flag fly! Free your hair!! 😀