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On Hold

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Hands reaching out to one another
May 17, 2021

On Hold

Her lips were red.

I watched as she

slowly licked them,

and the stains continued to rest upon them.

No smudges or movement.


She drew attention to her

words with bright lips.

She couldn’t help but smile

into the mirror

at the vibrant beauty.

They were her first defense

to call herself into existence.


The mask now covers her mouth,

there is no use for the red lipstick

her first love now resigned

red dried out and turned brown.

To be lost and unused.

She wonders if there will be a time

again she marks her lips

in red and speak in boldness.


Her world now muted

as she lets silence wash over her.

Hold my hand,

she wants to tell me as we

stay walking apart.

Silence fills the

space of the request and

disappointment washes over.

Another thing that cannot be.


She licks her lips, it’s a habit she just

can’t break, slow and with a pop

from puckering. Wondering what

strength will help her mouth

move once again.

With the new CDC recommendation on masks if you are fully vaccinated, I’ve been reflecting on the initial CDC guidelines in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When everyone started wearing masks it changed how we were able to engage with one another as we could no longer see everyone’s complete facial expressions. This piece is about the power lipstick held for some in confidence, but with COVID-19 was no longer usable. With this poem, I hope to describe this small instance as an entry point of the severe change we all have experienced and have grieved due to COVID-19.

Elizabeth Elliott

CGE Intern

Studying Biology & Women’s and Gender Studies