‘My Mum Wears Pink Lipstick’ – from Blood Salt Spring by Hannah Lavery

  22 Mar '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

In celebration of Mother’s Day this Sunday 27th, our poem of the week is ‘My Mum Wears Pink Lipstick’ from Blood Salt Spring, the debut collection by Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery. This collection explores ideas of nation, race, and belonging, and this poem evokes feelings of nostalgia for childhood and the relationship between mother and daughter.

My Mum Wears Pink Lipstick
I’d say you laid me in a sugar-pink shawl but I can’t be sure.
You with your sugar-pink lipstick smile – like that sugar-pink dress
that the Aunt Betty doll with her porcelain pink cheeks wore.

Did we put her upon a cane chair or was it Great-Granny’s chair?
That you wrapped in sugar-pink and powder-blue fabric wi cushions
and curtains matching. The sugar-pink of the Knickerbocker Glory

we had after the dentist, matching the pink of it to our scoured gums
and the underside of his palms. We brought out sugar-pink icing
for the Saturday tea, an indoor picnic, watching the A-Team.

Stuffing our faces wi sugar-pink Turkish delight, your sugar-pink
lips marking, claiming me. Mornings, I sat at the end of your bed
watching cartoons and reaching under your duvet to tickle

your pink pink toes. Now, I think it is not pink but peach
and looking back, not so sweet but fresh. It was a peach
and it was peachy skin and peach melba and it was peaches

we ate from the pedalo sellers that time in Greece, peaches
the size of tennis balls, collected from the waves, your peach
skin wet with the juice, beautiful peach skin turning shade deeper

that sugar-pink lipstick dripping on my cheek. I was melon.
A melon colour. Yellow like my yellow towelling shorts with the go
faster stripes. My yellow skin, sandy like your yellow hair before

Henna-red, Body Shop paste, turning my hands as green
as our kitchen walls, where we danced on Sundays to the Top 40.
Sugar-pink you and me, your melon, melanated girl

and sometimes the sugar-pink fell like paint, like raindrops.
Like rainbow sugar drops found in pockets. My mum
wears sugar-pink lipstick and I find the stains of it

the sweet sticky marks of it – everywhere.
- Blood Salt Spring, Hannah Lavery
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