Skin is an an extraordinary thing.
It’s stretched over our bellies,
dug deep beneath our nail beds,
hardened on our heels.
Skin swells as you do,
hangs on the old,
is pulled taut on the youthful.
It can be soft.
In some places, it’s hairy.
In the sun, watch olive women
turn a soft, toasted brown.
Sometimes it can get you into
country clubs.
Other times,
it gets you shot.

People kill others due to skin.
People blanch their skin
with powders and lye,
to feed the vision Europe
posted on the billboards
they see on their way
home, from work, every day.
Skin can turn on you.
It can blister, form scabs
over wounds you swore
you’d keep.

Skin can cost an ounce of gold,
two tons of pride, and a handful
of back teeth.
People die to stretch it on their lips,
to pull back the age that
spreads its crow’s feet near
their eyes.

Treat it well,
hydrate it,
protect it,
and it glows.
In the dark, though,
we’re all target practice.
Some grip demands in their fists
over others’ skin.
Skin can be so soft.
Nourish it,
and reap the fruits
of the clay it is molded from.
Enact violence on it,
and the hands of people,
raised to the sky,
skin rough and cracked from
work and draining protest,
will link across barbed wire,
chains,
locks,
bars.
Watch them intertwine
their fingers.
Watch them soften,
Watch as their skin glows
in defiance.

The world can leave you dry,
but you must nourish
the skin which pulls you
together.

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