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Picture 10127419, August 1930 advertisement, image copyright Mary Evans

Face Value
by Eithne Hand


At the wash basin I watched you shaving,

never wanting to miss a minute, my face

level with the basin staring up as you

pulled faces for a change. Soaping, scraping

with open blade or new fangled razor,

you dipped and tapped metal to ceramic and back

to jawline again, stretching the skin taut on your neck

until I passed the towel. You patted on cologne,

now smooth and handsome. I looked and looked,

not learning but catching your love of mirrored




You never cared for make-up, never taught us how.

A pink box of powder clouds rarely opened,

dust on all the little pots. Only lipsticks rubbed smooth,

the muted ones – never loud. You had little time

for mirrors, a lick and a spit would do. You brushed

your hair while putting on your shoes, chose your

alternating teacher’s dresses like so many uniforms.

And when you did put on your ‘war paint’

we teased your dolled-up face. There was no chair

at your dressing table, never time

to sit.



© Eithne Hand, from Fox Trousers (Salmon Poetry, 2021)

Picture 10127419, August 1930 advertisement, image copyright Mary Evans



Eithne Hand is a writer, radio and theatre producer from Greystones, Co Wicklow in Ireland. In 2021 she was an Artist in Residence at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo. Her first poetry collection Fox Trousers was launched by Salmon Poetry in February 2021 and her second collection will be published in spring 2024.


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