Red lipstick with trace over white background
moving in
by j.lewis

i was too young to have formed brain wrinkles
the ones that store the images of youth
meant to carry a young boy
through years of growing old
but there was a fence, that much i know
white, with a gate taller than as i was
sketchy images of playing with cousins
digging in the dirt, which is always
the first ingredient listed for my home state
and then those pictures are gone

legend has it that when i was three
mom and dad took the big leap
and bought a house to call home
grass in front, cinder block wall in back
and bare rooms. clean walls.
mother’s purse. lipstick.
and family history, traced
in a wavering line at the height
of my ignorant arms, along the canvas
of two or more rooms before the scream

it would be a lie to say i remember clearly
that pre-sulcus adventure in art
but i heard the story so often, so long
that i know it must be true
and so it forms my first memory
though certainly not the last
of finding new walls to decorate

PHOTO: “Red lipstick on white wall” by aimy27feb, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve moved so many times in my life, it’s hard to count them all. But few moves had the impact of the first one I (sort of) remember. It happened when I was three years old, and as my poem relates, I didn’t take long to help make the new house beautiful.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poems have appeared online and in print in numerous journals from California to Nigeria to the UK. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. His first collection of poetry and photography was published in June 2016, and is available on Amazon.