She stopped using black. It smudged, smeared and left botches that didn’t go away very easily. Some wouldn’t; they just stayed, stains on paper.
She thought that replacing them with lighter shades – grey, brown, deep teal – for her lower eye lid would fix things. It would stop the heavy smudging. If it smudges, it wouldn’t be a black eye.
One less bruise to cover.
The heat would make it worse. The smudging would be worse. She looked punk. Punk like Kurt Cobain.
"He's not punk" – his voice is cold.
She froze. She isn’t impressing him, that’s for sure. She looks at him hard but does not really see him; he is a blur of whiteness. His skin is so fair, his hair is so soft. He plays the guitar. He doesn’t like her. So she goes to the one with curly hair like hers. The one who like Kurt Cobain just to impress her.
She wears kohl to be beautiful for him.
She doesn’t know if the other colors are called kohl as well. Maybe eyeliner. Kohl calls for black, for softness, for the fluid powder contained and hugged warmly, loosely in the peach bottle.
Turn, turn, turn. And turn. After you're done, tiny trinkets, dots adorn your cheek bones, your pale hands.
Years later she doesn't wear it in the summer hear. Her eyes go pale, light lashes. Her skin bronzed and browned. She meets him, her lover, sweating, shining in the Ramadan lights. The sweat collects between her skin and the linen she wears loose on her body. It sleeps under the folding of her two breasts. Tickling her in discomfort at the cave at the back of her knees.
When they kiss there is no mirror to see how her body moves in holiness as his yearns in tender aggression. There is no mirror to reflect her eyes – darker than her skin – closed with wonder, sweat heaving on her eye lids.
She spends nights black as kohl looking for the mirror to reflect her longing eyes without smudges. As winter crawls up her legs and warms her heart, she lines her brown eyes once more with brown, grey and turquoise leaving black for days of bigger love.
She wears the one dress she has – black with a pink bow – and goes to where her blood tells her. Every pound in her chest knows he is here. She treads slowly, firmly so her legs don’t fail her.
He is not there.
Under the trees – naked with autumn cleaning – she waits as the pink fades into time.
She doesn’t see him but he is there. He arrives only after the black has flowed, smudging and bruising and she has gone off to save face.
It becomes ritual. Perhaps for memory. Maybe for God whom she ducks in fear of rejection. Black kohl becomes ritual for love.
She sleeps to hide of what grows inside her, of the fear lurking up to choke her with its density. And forgets to wipe the black descending slowly below her eyes.
She wakes up with bruises – one under her left eye, one beside her right bigger because of rubbing it till it watered. Both black, diluted and spread in sorrow.
Night black as kohl. She reminds herself of the stars that glow dipped in blackness. She reminds herself of the softness of it as it fell on the rim of the pale pink bathroom sink and she dressed in front of a mirror. Her friend, from the sea, gently drawing her eyes and smiling.
She reminds herself of her sun and her moon alternating between other shades of kohl, lighter at times to bring out the light in their eyes.
Wear black for love. For nights of magic – she tells herself. For the wisps of a breeze welcomed in gratitude. Kohl lined eyes for nights of blessings – collected till morning despite being afraid – to wipe away the bruising.