Zelda's Inferno exercise: "bright pink lipstick"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about cigarettes or other addictions (yours or other people's)

my grandmother -- my mother's mother -- wore bright pink lipstick
shocking pink
I remember it on the cigarette butts
white stubs of Pall Malls in an orange plastic ashtray

I can't remember her smoking them
(guess she didn't want to expose my brother and me to the smoke)
but I remember the pink slashes on those bone white ends
only a few shades paler than she was

Sometimes that's all I can picture about her, all these years later:
her sitting in the kitchen smoking Pall Malls
and drinking Tab
and watching soap operas -- her "stories"

and that's not fair, of course

because she was also the grandmother who spoiled us at Christmas
had endless patience for card games
War and Go Fish and Crazy Eights and Blackjack
(yes, my grandmother taught me Blackjack)
made pies with cherries right off the tree in her backyard
(if my grandfather could harvest some before the crows got them)

but she was the first of my grandparents to die
and when I think of that
I think of bright pink lipstick on bone white cigarette butts.

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