The Covenant of Mouths

i.        Fruit-Flavored Lip Glosses
 
I took care of a little girl who had a feeding tube and a trach tube. Every four hours, I’d open the gasket surgically implanted in her stomach, and pour in a can of nutrition. She’d plug her trach with her finger and sing, breathily-whispery.
 
Her mother bought her flavored lip glosses, and she’d slather her mouth. Tongue in & out, little snake, the comfort of taste.
 
Sometimes she’d sneak a popsicle, and we’d find evidence in the sticky phlegm of her trach, the peculiar grey-purple of artificial grape.
 
ii.         The Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa Souvenir Lipstick Case
 
inheritance of jewelry boxes of hat pins
 
if I wait if I want if I claim it
it remains what remains. Under its case
 
would be the color
of a mouth parted
 
the things you would say
unsaid
 
Here is the quiet that stalks the trinket
 
what is missing is the weight of carnauba wax and carnadine, alizarin and lanolin
what is missing is the generation that comes next
 
passed from mother to daughter to daughter to
 
iii.        When My Grandmother
 
stopped eating, my mother bought her flavored lip glosses.