Skin

1

Under a red umbrella,
the body sloughs off its towel.
Heat quickly dies
on the fabric and leaves
a carcass of furrows —
proof that sunlight was taken
into the skin, that Death
in Venice
was opened.

2

There’s a girl asking
her aunt about her father
and the war and
the strangers she’s allowed
to trust now. Her existence
is dependent on
the eyes that observe her.

In a crude act of ownership,
she writes names
on the back of her hand.

3

When a portion
of the ocean is brought out
in a bottle, the bottle
becomes its skin. A cage,
like falling asleep
behind the wheel and not waking up.

The waves, in their hunger
for things they have lost,
are prisoners of grief.

4

Bird cries. Everything moves
through sensations.
A seagull brushes the sky
as if it were hair, as if it hadn’t fed
its left foot to a fishing net.
Loss takes place
in the mouth first; the scream
possible only after
the mouth is empty.

If the veins on a man’s face
were to break free,
what would they touch first?

5

Privacy out here
is the body shaping versions
of an upside-down pail
in sand. The body turns its back
to everyone. To observe it
under the sun’s heat
is to see
maps and maps of peeling skin,
delineating nowhere.

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