Franz Anton Bustelli, Harlequina, ca. 1763,

Come morning, she replenishes her image
with the powder-fine adoration of followers
that leaves her skin with a porcelain sheen.

She then presents herself to the pedestal
candid as can be, paying no mind
to the gaze of the cameras
nor the quiet circle of executioners,
faces hidden behind eyeless masks,
branding irons in hand, red and hissing.

The moment of her unveiling airs
with gasps from afar.
The executioners grill letters and sigils
into every corporal surface,
black butterflies on her nails,
a sponsor, fingers curling like locks of hair
on her head,
ink paintings on her eyes.

She smiles today.

Like long distance lovers,
her audience romances her chimeric configuration

until the camera magnifies a crack
on her rib, where no blood, no water flows out.
They scream like crows and pull their hair out.
She is a freak
and the cracks spread
on every viewing screen, creeping down
her rib, to the bottom of her stature.

But it is really nothing to worry about;
soon another like her will come,
more grotesque, more real.

Anne Carly Abad
Anne Carly Abad received the Poet of the Year Award in the 2017 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. She has also received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award. Her work has appeared in Apex, Mythic Delirium, and Strange Horizons, to name a few. She continues to write in between managing her business and taking care of her little boy.