display | more...

The lower or inner layer of the two main layers of cells that make up the skin

My daughter’s hair,
this week a bilious shade of green,
has been cerise, cerulean,
marigold, indigo,
emo black (worn with
shroud-pale makeup &
an air of studied boredom).
For one, single, disorienting
month it was a brown
that might have been natural.

‘You should take
better care of your body,” I say.

I remind her
skin is the largest organ.
My glance pierces like the metal
through nose, lip, eyebrow; like
a needle full of ink.

She adjusts her collar to cover
the tattooed fritillary that perches
at the junction of neck
and shoulder,

an undeniable masterpiece
this butterfly tattoo.
A slick, black ribbon forms
the scalloped edge of the forewing,
the trailing sweep of the hind;
studded with vivid orange ovals
it frames a segmented
sapphire centre shaded
with the delicacy of an
old master,

though mainly I picture the point
stabbing my daughter
hundreds, thousands of times.
I see beads of blood.
I see my own repeated failures.

She slides a mug in front of me.
“Trim milk,” she says.
She offers this evidence of self-care
like a flag of truce;

I watch the coffee
settle, smooth as
newly healed skin:
pale and fragile,
but entire.

Part of the Anatomy project