My husband’s eyebrows became electrified in Costa Rica, anarchistic caterpillars, with mohawks. Punks. We called them Syd Vicious throughout the vacation and laughed every time. My granddaughter toddled in too-large flippers. Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.” That’s what she reminded me of, and I laughed every time. And I nuzzled her. Everybody nuzzled her. What a tonic.

My daughters and I wore our Polish thighs like trees. They wore theirs proudly, like oaks or redwoods. I tried to hide mine. I had decades of experience showing shame, like a peasant or a shrub. The native men let their bellies brag, buttons unbuttoned. I liked that about them, which was surprising. Maybe because they weren’t really handsome. The native women were beautiful but always sweeping.

The water in Costa Rica was perfect. No difference between water and body and air. No need to flinch. We floated in infinity pools like Jesus, drank pina coladas, kicking our legs on underwater stools made of volcanic stone.

At breakfast, white-faced monkeys, like two-toned jesters in bells, swung along the eaves above us, comically charming. Then they swooped down and stole all the sugar bowls. Then they flaunted their booty. Sugar packets were dangling from their ironic smiles. Sugar packets fanned out like large paper dentures. One monkey wore a bowl on his head, and then dropped all the Splenda on our heads. Only the Splenda.

I thought I looked great for my age in Costa Rica. Then I saw the photos and saw a peasant from L’Vov, a woman shorter and squatter than the others. My body’s a potato. My hair’s an Eastern European riot. At least I’m modern for L’Vov. I have a singular style. This is what I tell myself for consolation.

And anyway, this is a poem about my husband’s eyebrows, not me.


Leanne Grabel


Leanne Grabel, M.Ed., is a writer, illustrator, performer & special education teacher (in semi-retirement). Currently, Grabel is teaching graphic flash memoir to adults in several arts centers and retirement communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. In love with mixing genres, Grabel has written & produced numerous spoken-word multimedia shows, including “The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression”; and “Anger: The Musical.” Her poetry books include Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction & a theater piece); & Gold Shoes, a collection of graphic prose poems []. Grabel has just completed Tainted Illustrated, an illustrated stretched memoir, which is being serialized in THE OPIATE. She is working on a compilation of 45 years of illustrated writing. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry hub of the 90s.

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