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On Sewing and the Anatomy of Lips

On Sewing and the Anatomy of Lips

Cupid’s bow: The contour line of the upper vermilion.

I am drawn tight, nocked with pretty words and flattering susurrations, pulled close like the fletch of a hapless arrow trembling in that heartbeat of before—then released, flung afar, the unforgivable distance of a promise unkept.

I would disarm his weapon, the clever charm of his mouth, snip his bowstring and thread it sharp through the eye of my needle, Cupid’s falsehoods be damned.

Vermilion border: The demarcation between pigment and surrounding skin.

I am without boundary, threading the lines of him and me, craving the simmer of fire he breathes across my skin, dreading the harsher whispers, the ones that inflame my flaws, char my weaknesses to naked bone.

I would set my foundation stitch in the depth of his vermilion kiss, knot the filament to hold firm against the heat of his exhalations, even when he enkindles cinnabar and mercuric love.

Oral commissures: The corner intersections of the upper and lower vermilion.

I am entangled, caught in his caress of contrition, enticed by apologies murmured sweet in the space of my doubt, over and again.

I would stitch my resolve true, corner to corner, right to left, my needle piercing and tugging snug, sealing me safe from the taste of betrayal. I would reinforce the seam, whipstitch strong, and bury the traitorous scissors that, even now, beg to cut loose the thread, long to let me again fall into the curve of his infernal, beckoning vermilion.

Myna Chang (she/her) is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain (CutBank Books). Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. Find her at, or on Twitter or Bluesky at @MynaChang.

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