Little girls in small towns love
their ChapStick: vanilla bean,
coca cola, root beer. They dig
in their mothers’ purses,
fingering loose pennies
and half sticks of bubble gum,
searching for the elusive lip balm.
They beg for extra money
in store check-out lines, longing
for flavors that taunt them
from the shelves.
They know the smooth wax soothes
split lips parched in the dead
of winter-dry months.
They watch their mothers
rub lotion through the pinched
lines around their eyes, favorite
aunts smooth oil on their torn
cuticles. Even their older sisters
dot snags in their nylons
with clear fingernail polish.
These girls already believe in salves
for all the raw wounds women
around them are forced to wear:
rough elbows and heels, paper cuts,
deep scrapes that never healed, but
turned to scabs, and then scars.
Karen J. Weyant's poetry has been published in Arsenic Lobster, Cave Wall, Cold Mountain Review, Copper Nickel, Poetry East, Rattle, River Styx, Tahoma Literary Review, and Whiskey Island. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Stealing Dust(Finishing Line Press, 2009) and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt (Winner of Main Street Rag's 2011 Chapbook Contest). She teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. When she is not teaching, she explores the rural Rust Belt of northern Pennsylvania and western New York.