Dear Skin




This is your season:
Hems rise, toenails bloom,
elbows collude,
the neck-nape bared and how

many years have I wasted,
envying others’ ease
in you? How many curses cast
at hives or swollen eyelids,
how many raw glares
when offered the slather
of goat-milk lotion,
two coins of cucumber?

Breaking out, I would say
and though allergies
were the prison,
you were the jailer.

I apologize, skin,
for taking so long to realize
the tiger’s stripes begin
in you; for mistaking
barnacles on a whale as blight,
those beautiful hitchhikers;
for calling it slime
when a frog drinks in the rain.

I apologize for spending hours
on your malfunctions
and not one
on the miracle of how

you translate a lover’s touch—
you, my largest organ—
how you listen to the world
while I am sleeping.
Every 27 days, your cells
replace themselves.
Let’s start fresh.
We are designed for it.

Sandra Beasley is the author of three collections of poetry and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life (Crown). She lives in Washington, DC.