Teaching Beauty During a Pandemic

by Colette Tennant


Today I taught the Renaissance Code for Beauty –

High forehead
Ears – pale pink roses
Arched eyebrows
Golden curls
Chestnut eyes
Ivory cheeks
Small mouth
And a smile that could point the way to paradise,
but only if she showed six teeth or less.

You might wonder why all of this mattered.
Because philosophers, balanced between
Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary,
believed beauty could somehow
cleanse a little corner of their ancient,
earth-sullied souls,
could tilt them back toward God.

I lean near the screen, toward
their sweet faces – their breath.



Colette Tennant has two poetry books: Commotion of Wings and Eden and After. Her most recent book, Religion in The Handmaid’s Tale: a Brief Guide, was published in September of 2019 to coincide with Atwood’s publication of The Testaments. Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.

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