Medusa Browses the Beauty Aisle – Lauren Scharhag

Medusa Browses the Beauty Aisle

She enters the sliding doors, careful to avoid
her own gaze. They call it safety glass, but she has
no illusions of safety. She takes a plastic basket
and carries it on her arm as she browses. Her fellow
shoppers instinctively give her a wide berth,
wanting to skirt both their own devastation as well as
the site of one, even though she keeps her eyes
down. All those reflective surfaces. All those
security mirrors. Fluorescent lighting pitiless
and unblinking as the eyes of old gods. The crime
is always being too beautiful, or not beautiful
enough. Her shoulders drift with dandruff,
scaly lengths of serpentine slough. She considers
coal tar. She considers Selsun Blue. She considers
chamomile, rosemary, tea tree, jojoba. But nothing
with sea salt. Never sea salt. She considers
boar-bristle brushes, hair masks, headscarves,
coconut oil. She considers banana clips and headbands.
She walks right past the straightening irons but
selects a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment.
Her snakes wriggle happily, anticipating the warm
basks to come. She samples lotions, loads up
on bath bombs, on exfoliants, on nail polish and remover,
a mani-pedi set. She tries lipsticks in shades other
than the Blood of Mine Enemies, other than
Temple Virgin Pink or Asking for It Victim,
purple as a bruise. Or maybe she just sticks
to balms, wanting comfort, wanting softness
and self-care for its own sake, exempt
from gazes now, even her own. She goes
through self-checkout, laughing to herself
at the joke.

Lauren Scharhag reads Medusa:

Garish variants of deep crimson, orange-red, yellow-red, a mural myth collage of Medusa going shopping after Lauren Scharhag's poem. There is a shopping bag, slashes of text and murky landscapes depicting walking, wooden houses, textile work, with a garish neon pulse and vague definitions to figures. (c) Robert Frede Kenter (2023.

Display Case – Medusa Goes Shopping – Robert Frede Kenter


Lauren Scharhag (she/her) is an associate editor for GLEAM: Journal of the Cadralor, and the author of thirteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 150 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize and multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. She lives in Kansas City, MO. Twitter/Instagram: @laurenscharhag


Art: Display Case – Medusa Goes Shopping, a Vispo collage work by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2023.

Robert Frede Kenter is a widely published writer, pushcart nominee, visual artist, editor, designer, EIC, midwife and publisher of Ice Floe Press, Twitter: @frede_kenter.

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