To Skin

27 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbors!

In my search for a poem of gratitude today, I came across “To Skin” (which I wrote some years ago but don’t believe I ever made public—at least not here). It reminds us of one thing we have to be grateful for which, though all around us, is easy to take for granted.

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Graphic from Pixabay.com

To Skin

Here’s to you
millimeter-thin layer cake
dermis, epidermis, hypodermis
dyed in the color of my race.

So tidily you enfold
crimson river of blood
yellow fat, pink muscle
grey bone, palette of reds—
burgundy liver to scarlet lung.

Body-sized organ of translucent turf
you possess an intelligence
that knows the difference
between lips and soles
lids and ears,
multi-tasks the switchboard
of smooth and rough, blazing and frigid
thrill and ouch, burn and itch.

Impervious to water
soft armor against malevolent
microbe and virus
yet vulnerable,
you blush
under sun and wind
bleed when cut
shrivel and distort when burned
swell, sweat, weep, toughen
discolor and scar.
Plump and smooth when new
you age into crepe, wrinkles, folds
jowls, doubles, triples and aprons
but still you blanket and protect.

So here’s to you
my lifetime-guaranteed
layer of cling-wrap,
boundary
and, till I reach eternity,
outline of my dust-to-dust
identity.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carols Corner.

27 thoughts on “To Skin

  1. So much to love in this poem!!!! Your use of color in the first stanza, the dichotomies in the second, the verbs in the third, and the cling wrap metaphor in the final stanza. Definitely one of those where I walk away wishing I could write like this!

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  2. Those tiny details in this ode made me realize how much it does, Violet. Your tribute will cause my gratitude as I put the needed lotion on “my lifetime-guaranteed/layer of cling-wrap”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mary-Lee! Speaking of taking things for granted, every organ is in the running! When I took a course on human physiology, years ago before I started my medical transcription business, I was awed by the design of our bodies.

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    • Thanks so much, Michelle! Re Thanksgiving feasts – It’s nice to know that skin stretches so beautifully across full tummies, isn’t it? And then, after a few days of eating sobriety, it snugs up again (until its elasticity passes its best-before date, of course).

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    • Thanks, Jane! Acne is tough, especially because it comes at such a formative time in life. Psoriasis is another tough one (I’m gaining sympathy for that condition from some TV ads that have been playing lately). It makes one appreciate comfortable (though imperfect) skin all the more.

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  3. Wow, Violet! This is simply wonderful. There is so much to love from start to finish. I’m thankful for poems that help me see things in new ways–this is certainly one of them! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Surely one of your best, one of our best, one of the THE best parts of our miracle bodies. I’ll tell you, though–I thought it was going to be about race with all its challenges.

    Oh wait–it IS about race, and how there isn’t really any fundamental difference. Skin is skin.

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    • Thank you, Brenda. Use of interior colour was an interesting aspect. Of course I have never seen inside my own body and viewed the organs. So when writing this I remember hearkening back to the old encyclopedia pictures of the human body with all their colourful organs that I studied as a kid.

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      • It brought those same images back to me when I read it — so you communicated that most effectively. You made the body a vibrant and multi-colorful place — a reminder that we have more colors in common than just the color of our skin or hair.

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