Wendy Taylor Carlisle The 2River View, 9.3 (Spring 2005)
Skin to Skin Listen to the Poem

Skin cells move to the surface
as they mature, five layers basale to lucidum,
ending in the scaly corneum. Surgeons
must cut through them all to reach in,
the clock running on an operation
from the first incision to the last stitch—
skin to skin—a whole skin.

A person’s loved ones don’t know this,
might have no time to imagine the cut,
while she lives in wholeness,
never thinks, I could die,
before she does, the shattering
so absolute that we, coming along later,
can only stand dumb
beside a bridge abutment
where someone, even this soon,
has put down bouquets,
fresh daises, a bunch of silk flowers
in their glass bottle and tied
drugstore balloons on the railing,
a flash to remind us that the skin,
a membrane, can be callus
or a scab or petal or, in an instant, mist.

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