SNAKESKIN

My skin spread itself across my skull-
face
tight, taught, grey
so that when I smiled
a little tear started along the edge
each time ripping a little more
until my ear was hanging
lopsided down
and all I could hear
was from the inside out.

I asked you-
quietly, trying not to move a muscle
afraid my face would crumple
and skin would slide off
like a snake in the summer
       -do you hear?


You took a second
handled it carefully
in such fragility it came
and shook your head, no.

I was surprised
-not with your reply-
but that your head
didn't roll off
as you shook it.

My eyes must have betrayed my wonder
for you began a long monologue,
how normal are the sounds
I am the sanest of them all,

I really didn't pay much mind,
too busy trying not to think so hard
that my brains would push out
my eyes
and take down my face.
Then I'd have no skin at all
and my true self
would lie exposed to
the deadly light and air.


by Jennifer Steinfeldt




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