by Keryna Stutts

Barefoot, leaning over the counter
she painted on her lipstick.
She never wore shoes unless
she was going out.
The bottoms of her feet stained black,
she could run across gravel
as if it were carpet.
Lips pursed carefully
around a menthol,
so as not to smudge
all her hard work.
She exhaled a miasma of
cigarettes, cheap wine and Aquanet.
Somehow frowning and smiling
she hummed Steve Miller
under her breath.
I learned how to fold myself
under the counter so that
she could pretend
I wasn’t there,
staring at the light hairs
on her toes
and the dirt embedded
under her nails.
They would curl under
as she leaned back on her heels,
inspecting her reflection,
smoothing down her dress.
Her wrinkled hands wrapped
around her hips before wetting
the tip of her cigarette under the faucet.
She raised her head,
her shoulders tensed
as she reached for her shoes.
Her dirty feet disappeared.
I watched her latch the tiny gold buckles.
The clip of her heels across linoleum
a familiar cadence.
The creak of the storm door
filled the space
she left behind.
I crawled out
from under the counter
and carried my sister to bed.


Category: Featured, Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student