LIPS   Yours, honey, were so perfect, a little rosebud mouth, not those puffed up blubbery things, my mother says when I pointed out the models’ collagen petals. “Roses,” my mother always says, “That’s what yours were, a nice tiny nose. That’s from your father. One good thing. Not a big ugly one like I’ve got.” I think of my mother’s lips, moving close to my hair, how her breath was always sweet. “Too thin lips, like your father’s,” show stinginess.” She was right. A man who couldn’t give presents or love, a good word or money. I only remember three things he told me and all begin with Don’t tho my mother said stories came from those lips, that he brought me a big dog. I only remember the thinness of his lips, how the death meant I wouldn’t have to leave school to testify for the divorce. Lips. When I came home from camp I found Love Without Fear in the bathroom and read “if a girl lets a man put his tongue on her lips down there, she’ll let him do anything,” and then some thing about deflowering. A strange word I thought trying to imagine flowers down there, rosebuds not only on my mouth, a petal opening, but a whole bush of petals, a raft of roses someone kneeling would take me away on, a sea of roses, flowers and my lips the island we’d escape to    LEMON WIND   all day nobody wanted to talk the sleeping bags were still wet from the storm in Cholla Vista Nothing went right. But later the wood we burned had a sweet unfamiliar smell and all night we could taste lemons in the wind    NOT THINKING IT WAS SO WITH YELLOW FLOWERS   At night I dreamed that same dream, the one full of muscles and thighs that aren’t you. Later the fear came back crossing into Mexico tho at first when I woke up I thought it wasn’t true the air was so bright and yellow flowers were falling from the pepper tree like suns    SOME AFTERNOONS WHEN NOBODY WAS FIGHTING   My mother took out walnuts and chocolate chips. My sister and I plunged our fingers in flour and butter smoother than clay. Pale dough oozing between our fingers while the house filled with blond bars rising. Mother in her pink dress with black ballerinas circling its bottom turned on the Victrola, tucked her dress up into pink nylon bloomer pants, kicked her legs up in the air and my sister and I pranced thru the living room, a bracelet around her. She was our Pied Piper and we were the children of Hamlin, circling her as close as the dancers on her hem.  
Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. You can read an interview with Lyn by Emily Vogel in Ragazine.CC archives: