After Receiving My First Valentine’s Rose from a Blue-Uniformed Honda Rep by Susi Lopera

This piece was selected by our guest editor, Joe Russo.

“The mirror warps my face as I stroke the lipstick trace left by Mom’s kiss on my cheek. Its shade matches the rose I tuck behind my ear. The rose’s ribbon, blue and festooned with Honda logos, I tie as a headband around my hair.”

After Receiving My First Valentine’s Rose from a Blue-Uniformed Honda Rep by Susi Lopera

That night at Marino’s Italian: squelch
of touching tongues, candlelight, and bow-tied
waiters who whisk by with oysters
and tiramisu. Velvet jewelry boxes, wine
stained lips, cleavage, and my fist
that floats in front of my face to hide
Zit-topia—the red mountain range that calls
my chin home. Mom clasps Dad’s hand. They braid

fingers. “Saint Valentine’s decapitated skull,
crowned by fake flowers, lies
in a glass box in Rome,” I say. Fingers
unbraid. “Nationalists in Mumbai
call Valentine’s Day cultural contamination.”
They lean in to hear me above popped corks
and the saxophone’s trill. I lean back so they won’t
see the hairs thatched between my eyebrows
and on my upper lip. Outside the door

of my apartment building I wave
goodbye with a half-raised arm that hides
the wet where armpit meets T-shirt. Inside,
I strip off clothes but leave on green
and orange mismatched socks. The mirror warps
my face as I stroke the lipstick trace left
by Mom’s kiss on my cheek. Its shade matches
the rose I tuck behind my ear. The rose’s ribbon, blue
and festooned with Honda logos, I tie
as a headband around my hair.

Now dolled up for the occasion, I squat
on the toilet. The rhythm of globs
splashing into water echoes against porcelain.
The toilet paper, stamped with hearts
and roses, I use to wipe.

*

Susi Lopera is from Medellin, Colombia. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family, three silly dogs, and nine chickens. She likes wearing mismatched socks and enjoys talking to herself in British and French accents. Susi is a sculptor who works mostly in clay, but she is trying out the new exciting medium of bronze. She also makes videos and writes poetry. You can check out her art and many pictures of her dogs at her website www.susilopera.com and on Instagram.

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