Skin

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This poem first appeared in New Writing Scotland 29

 

The heat hit me as I stepped inside.

I was unpeeled, raw as a newborn,

as a fire raged in the hearth,

making my new skin salty and wet.

 

Each night I went to bed

I felt as if I slept in the wrong skin,

wrapped in the wrong arms.

 

He thought the sea was dark and cold,

but deep down is warm as breath

and alive with light.

 

I would go to the rocks and talk,

though when the women heard my barks

they thought me mad,

and whispered with their foreheads close.

 

One day my daughter uncovered them

during play.  He had locked up my skins

so I couldn’t go home.

I hated him then, for I’d been sick for years.

 

But as I slipped the skins back on

and slid into the water,

I bid him kiss the children for me.

 

Then I thanked him for his kindness

and the warmth of the house

that he could never make me a part of.

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