The only thing I ever stole
was a tube of lipstick from K-Mart.
All my friends were doing it—so
easy, they said. And there it was—
in my pocket, little flame
of a crime, burning next to
the dollar I could’ve used
to pay for it, the money I was
saving to buy the new Beatles 45.
The lipstick grew hot in my pocket.
When I got home and tried it,
the color turned greasy on my lips,
a greenish shade of guilt.
My lips were thick with it.
So I wrapped the tube in tissue
and buried it deep in the trash
my father would soon burn.
Every time I stirred the ash:
little glints of melted
plastic and gold, a color
that never looked good on me.
Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018) and the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) as well as 8 chapbooks of poetry including Grief Bone, (Five-Oaks Press: 2017).