My Mother's Lipstick


My Mother's Lipsticks

An Essay

Kim Delmar Cory

                It's been five years and there they sit. Two lipstick tubes on the ledge of my bathroom 
        counter. Every morning and evening, as I perform my ablutions, I consider them. 

                I could never wear my mother's lipsticks: Tawny and Peony Pink. My mother was blonde 
        and I am not. My daughter happily inherited her blonde hair. That is my mother's legacy to her. 

                How do I come to understand my mother's legacy to me? It is in these lipsticks. 

                I don't recall how I came by them. Perhaps they were discovered in a cosmetic pouch 
        that found its way to me after her death. All I know is I cannot throw them out. Or move them. 

                As a child I watched my mother don lipstick and pearls when going out with my father. 
        Back then her lipstick color choices were more vibrant: "Cherries in the Snow" or "Fire and Ice." 

                I coveted them. She would dab one on my lips, have me press my mouth onto a tissue to 
        even the color, and I was in heaven. In my mind, I looked like my mother.
                There are other personal items of my mother's that I hold dear. In one dresser drawer 
        are three lovely neatly folded silk scarves that were hers. She wore them well. I do not so there 
        they remain. Along with a winter white clutch that I have never used. We have converted to 
        huge heavy purses that cross over our bodies and hold every cosmetic and digital device made. 
        Also in my dresser is a small gray box that creaks a lovely song when opened and bears her 
        pearls which I wear for special occasions as did she. 

                But it is my mother's lipsticks that connect me to her. 

                Her lipsticks occupy a corner of my bathroom counter as they did her bathroom 
        counter. I twist a tube open, now a faded gold, and a light scent of my mother wafts from it. I 
        note how smooth and round the once steep waxy angle appears, worn down from her daily use. 
        I'm reminded of how she chose this lipstick color because it complemented her complexion and 
        hair. I envision her checking her lipstick in the mirror on her way out the door to make sure it 
        hadn't smudged, chatting as she did so. 

                My mother's lipsticks bear her scent, remind me of her face and hair, her daily routine. 
        Of how I felt when I wore her lipstick as a little girl. They connect me to her like no other of her 
                Every morning and evening when I see her lipsticks sitting on their narrow ledge, I smell 
        and see and hear her. And feel at one with her. 

                Feel the impenetrable bond between mother and daughter. 

                Her legacy to me.