reading my skin

 

redheads
know better now
to guard against
the dangerous sun,

but our skin
tells cavalier stories
of childhoods
cycling through
burn,
peel,
freckle,
repeat…

scars learned-from
can be badges
of endurance
and resilience,

and freckles,
like the stars,
gorgeous remnants
of playing
with fire.

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grounded

1eb1b-feet200Some days I’m more aware of
my chin’s closeness
to the floor,
the short distance
from shoulder to heel,
the nearness of my bones
to the boards they creak upon.

Feet of Missouri clay and corn-silk stubble,
I rise barely a fence post above the earth
that holds me
grounded,
like a bird
under a basket.

groundhog day

The sun lurks past coldly,
an estranged friend
sneaking by
on the opposite sidewalk
avoiding eye contact
behind a turned-up collar of silhouetted buildings.
He hangs in other hemispheres these days.
I must be last season’s affair,
if he thinks of me at all.

The day opens her doors only briefly,
pulling in her awning
as schools let out,
flipping her sign to “closed”
as the shadows grow long on the sidewalk,
slipping onto the bus before rush hour.
I pass her grated storefront
on my way to and from work,
wondering if she’s gone out of business.

The papers pile on my desk,
layers moldering together,
settling into impenetrable strata,
insurmountable mounds.
I should have raked them into manageable heaps
and burned them back when they first fell there.
I cannot begin to make sense of them.
They are past their deadlines
waiting as mulch for the crocuses.

James J. Kempster, 2000