My grandmother lost her eyebrows
circa 1977. Her eyelashes, too.
She tried to light a cigarette
off a gas stove burner and whoosh.
By the time I came around,
she liked to joke that she’d adopted
the Whoopi Goldberg look.
Now, my mother is going the same route,
but she didn’t burn hers off.
She plucks them, very thin and uneven,
giving her a perpetually surprised expression,
like she’s been shooting Botox.
I didn’t say anything because
I didn’t want to hurt her feelings,
but she’s asked me if I know anything
about eyebrow tinting. I, who have never
been into cosmetics, am exactly
the wrong person to ask.
“My eyebrows are going white,” she said.
“That’s why I started plucking them.”
She and my grandmother both
started to go gray young,
started dyeing their hair young.
They always liked their makeup
and haircare products anyway,
so it was a matter of pride for them
to take up the gauntlet early.
As gray hairs start to sprout from my own scalp
and I slide into my mom jeans,
I wonder what my struggle will look like,
what casualties will arise,
what things people won’t point out,
hoping to spare me.