Women make up lips at the wheel the car, not stares on the road

                           I put lipstick on at a red light

                           For the first time today.

                           Always before I’d wondered how a woman,

                           Could drive and apply lipstick.
                           Sitting beside or behind cars,

                           I’d watched women flick

                           Open gold or silver tubes,

                           Gracefully arch their necks

                           To see their reflection

                           In rearview mirrors,

                           Deftly draw red cylinders

                           Across the upper and lower lips,

                           Softly with heads turned slightly to the right,

                           Rub those lips together,

                           Arch again to observe how precisely

                           They had rosied their lips.

                           When the light turned green,

                           Blaring horns declared the need to

                           Move on through the intersection.


                           Sometimes I smiled smugly at this ritual,

                           Thinking how this vanity was so embedded,

                           Automatic in some women’s lives,

                           Wondering why they didn’t groom

                           Before leaving home.


                           Today at sixty,

                           Late and in a hurry,

                           I put lipstick on at a red light,

                           For the first time,

                           And someone honked.

                                                                                    Cerita M. Hewett