Her lips part –

a naive rose readying to open

as if to beautify

the world by saying something,



She reaches for a glimmering

stick in shades of tangerine

night, aims

then pulls back

then aims once more.

The stern edge

lands squarely

along the upper left bloom

of her smile’s outline.


She presses more

tangerine layers

along the right

arch of her flower

bright colors falling into cracks

where youth once made a home

where age now welcomes

crumbs and whatever else comes.


Her mouth still open wide

she extends her arm

away from her half-finished life.


No, finish, her memory tells her.


She resumes

swiping one more swath

of tangerine across

the petal of her lower lip


then twists the lipstick

back inside its home.


Later, she will kiss goodbye

and leave an imprint

of her breath behind.