Jan/Feb 2017 Poetry Special Feature

Chapstick Hypnosis

by Gina O'Neill

© 2016 Elizabeth P. Glixman

© 2016 Elizabeth P. Glixman

Chapstick Hypnosis

my daughter squeals.

Puzzled by my hesitance,
she seizes the tube from my hands
to perform her ritual.

That shiny cylinder,
how it suctions out unpretty air
with the whoosh and click of its cap...

Her fingers latch on like tentacles,
all four and thumb at once,
to tug off the translucent top in a frenzy,

Oh! the splendor of what's inside:
enlightenment enveloped in plastic, it is
a prize not carved from infallible gold
but from menthol and petroleum jelly.

Her eyes widen and close
like an embrace, as if she had unlocked
the secret to womanhood: soft lips.

She gasps! throws it on,
arms moving in pendulum motion, smearing
lips to cheek, lips to other cheek.
It leaves a glossy sheen on her chin.

Eyes lit up like the inside of an oven,
she feels her new face,
entranced by its waxy finish.

Silent, she slides the cap back on,
to preserve that baby bliss:
the hope of vanilla-scented lip balm.

To be like mama!
To smooth lotion on the skin
or run a brush through locks of hair.
She'll observe, hold out
dimpled expectant hands,
where a dollop of cream
takes up a quarter of palm
and scarce makes it to the other.

It takes one and a half years to learn
the physics of beauty,
its chicken-or-egg economics.

Those eager, nimble fingers,
too young to tie shoes,
must already know the sensation
of longing and how it lingers
even after shoving desire down
the throat.

She occasionally bites it, too.

she decides,
determined to make it last
this time.


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