I live, write, and teach in Appleton, Wisconsin--about 35 miles south of the "frozen tundra." I am fascinated by good paper, poetry and the way ink moves forward on the blank page and words trail behind like a snake shedding its skin. Winner of the 2003 Main Street Rag Chapbook contest, I am the author of the collection A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) and seven chapbooks of poetry. Widely published (poetry, reviews and interviews), I was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2011. www.karlahuston.com
My Mother Thinks
She’s Gina Lolobrigida,
sweet Italian vamp with dark hair,
black eyes, lips painted a perfect
Fire and Ice. She preens in front
of the mirror, feather-toed mules stilting
her legs; net stockings and rhinestones
shimmer in the spotlight, corset laced
so tight her 34Cs look like torpedoes
aimed at any available mark. My father,
somewhere in the garage, oils
his joints, rubs hands on his crewcut,
the car he’s building beginning to take shape.
Sh’boom, sh’boom. She kicks a hip, pulls
her silk robe tight to that gem of a body;
she eases into champagne, drops
a shoe, settles to watch Trapeze again,
to see Burt’s dimples wink at her
on the high bar, head thrown back,
one perfect leg pointing to the stars.
But in this version, I’m the annoying,
chubby kid dragging her back,
holding the long-legged doll, yarn
curls and rags in my own hair. The lipstick
I’m not allowed sits next to her coiling
cigarette, point worn to a perfect edge.
I slip a toe into one shoe but cannot stand,
not even a stagger before I fall.
Mother laughs, not at me, but
at Burt and Tony squabbling over her.
I give my doll a shake, try
to get her attention but she’s too busy,
pursing glassy lips at the high wire act
on the screen. The dog grabs the shoe,
barks, “Ladies and gentlemen, children
of all ages, see The World’s Most
Beautiful Woman, at home.”
“'Life could be a dream, sweetheart.'”
©2015 Karla Huston