When I was very small, I used to watch her get ready for dates.
She would lean into the mirror and dab on lipstick. My favorite
was a berry burgundy. It made her look exotic, more like
the women on television, less like my mother.

I used to try on her brown boots while she
brushed and fluffed and sprayed and powdered.
They came clear up to my thighs and made a fun clunk-clunk
as I marched up and down our short hallway, my arms held
at my sides like a runner’s, my hands in determined fists.
When she had taken a last satisfied look in the mirror,
she would hold out her hand in request. My fun clunk-clunk
was done. I would shimmy out of the boots and watch her
pull them over her calves, become a tall willow of a woman.

A few minutes later, the doorbell, a kiss on my forehead,
a breeze of our front door opening and shutting, the smell
of her citrus perfume filling our toy-strewn living room.
I read books while I waited for her, wearing the shape of her
berry burgundy lips on my forehead like a badge of honor.

I awoke to her returning in the blackness, my head having
long ago surrendered to the heavy pull of sleep, a book still in
my hand. I could hear her boots in the hall, water running,
the sound of her boots once more. Then her undecorated lips
kissing my smudged forehead, back to being my mother again.


If you liked this, why not share it?
Remember, share is a verb too.