Susan UttingSusan Utting 



On hot or fretful nights my father put on white
cotton gloves to bed, that blush on his arms,
his boyish cheeks not ruddy health but sensitivity.

Skin is familial, father to daughter, daughter
to her own, we are a thin-skinned line, scratchers
and shedders, papery as pods of summer honesty.

We shrivel, shrink from the sun, perform our nightly,
daily rituals, brisk anointments covering the promises
we know as lies, of something we'll grow out of.

My father went to his grave with finger nails cut short,
bare-handed in his Sunday best, black spit-and-polish
shoes, skin eased by death, cool at last as the silk he lay in.

First published in South 60 Magazine, October 2019

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