– Mother said a lady is always clean, well-dressed,
and presentable, even when dying inside.

Dr. Tim looked me up and down
with undisguised
I’d finally washed
my hair, and it hung
in loose waves down my back.
I’d put on the size 0 mini-dress
with lace sleeves
(to show off my legs
and hide the needle tracks).
Sliding my feet into a pair of high
heels felt right
for the first time in ages.
I’d slipped my wedding ring onto
a chain, clipped it
around my neck.
I’d drunk black
coffee, forced down an apple,
then thrown it up in the sink,
put a coat on and looked
less anorexic.
In the waiting room
I’d read Vogue’s
Fall issue, cover to cover.
Today I was as beautiful
as any model.
Dr. Tim checked me up and down.
With my new look,
the shrink hardly knew
I fingered the razor blade in my pocket.
Dr. Tim ushered me inside.
“You look like a million bucks.”

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Nashville Review, Poetry East, and elsewhere. She’s the author of four poetry collections, most recently, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017) and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photos are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.