You pull the plug on the sink and wash your hands
after you fill it up with water so hot it’ll peel the skin
right from your flesh, making sure the suds rinse
completely down the drain and theres nothing left
on your fingers to feel except steam and feeling
sterile. And you hate it because you’re too little
to care about clean hands before dinner. Little
children aren’t allowed to cry, so when your hands
scrape the pavement saving skidded knees you’re left feeling
alone instead of pain as you hide tears soaking shaved skin
and bloody palms. Looking down at the scuff on your left
thumb you know it’ll be gone with a long rinse
under running water. The sting cools as you rinse
away the heat, and your thinking alters a little.
You’re alone, but you’re stronger and later when he left
you still gained courage by looking down at your hands
and seeing that line of white on your skin.
Now you graze it with the right thumb and no feeling
is there. You don’t remember the pain because feeling
the scar reminds you of how he made you rinse
dirty knees and taught you to search beneath skin
to find strength at your weakest. You’re no longer little
and skinned limbs aren’t your enemies. She hands
you his photograph and your vulnerability and you’re left
sucking back rivers trying to burst from eyes left
dry far too long. And suddenly it’s okay to let feeling
take over and you drop your face to cupped hands
and tears wash out thirsty perception. A quick rinse
wouldn’t be enough when a thing so little
as a picture makes you lose your mind in your skin.
And it all makes sense with clear sight. You shed old skin
to grow and be better, and you’ll learn that he never left
intending to leave you alone. He left you with a little
keepsake to dig up from the basement when you’re feeling
lonely. It’s just pain that goes away when you rinse
the dirt from the wound and wipe tears with clean hands.
You knew that hurting feeling would be lost with one rinse
as his calloused hands were lifeless, and you were sure when you left
that a little crying is okay if you’re comfortable in your skin.
Todays best new poem was written by Morgan McClean.
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