Papa's Lips

by Tyler Dempsey, 3.24am May 10th 2021

Jane opened her lips, when the thing Mama held on its sides, when this smooth round thing, pressed. Like this. This night I brought Jane and Clara to Papa’s house from roads made of dirt that curl like curlicues set way back in the woods. 

Mama’s hands met behind Jane’s head, with look like collar things running through them. See—if she held them, like this, they look like a collar. She collared them together. 

Fuck yeah, said Jane. 

Mama looked inside Clara. Your clothes, she said. 

Don’t worry, she said next.

Mama stepped boots to my box. And reached, way down. 

Inside, this box was different, than how it, on the outside, looked, as Mama reached her hand inside. In fact—what Mama pulled up, was bigger, than what, on the outside, this box was.

What she pulled up, was a thing.

This thing. 

Like clothes. But not. 

Inside, Clara could have gotten, wearing the thing like clothes, Clara could do, which she began doing, there in Papa’s bedroom. 

Good, I whispered. 

Mama looked. And with Clara inside, zippered the lips of this thing shut. Like this.


Like Papa’s lips, when he saw things different than Papa things he saw ages ago in this wooded, hole-in-the-wall place. This, Papa’s house began whispering to me about. 

About, how before he lived down in the made from dirt dirt, on nights like these, when he lifted it to his lips, again and again, and his own Papa’s Papa words swirled around Papa’s puckered up cheeks as he lifted it. And, up, into his arms we crawled, Mama and I. In his arms, us, together, we sang. 

How his lips looked, then. 

Is how Clara’s lips looked when Mama zippered them shut.