Your veins show through, the skin softens and puckers, a pink wrinkly bud. Folding in the middle, a tender surrender, or an attempt to paste tint over the furrows and the deltas, the loosening softness. Jia Jia said “foundation,” but I didn’t understand, thought it was something solid, something to stand on, not spackle. Not Dior or L’Oreal, drugstore or Sephora, brand name disappearing into cabbage. “Her face was as plain as cabbage,” still jealous of this simile. Was it Chekhov? In forgetting, I search for the new. Anton Pavlovich would have eaten so much cabbage and loved the tender deficiencies of this leaf more than a bald glossy head in the field, still juicy and firm, a promise both full and empty, while this leaf is only itself, and why, why is that more than enough
Ribs of an unknown animal, glitter and shine. Eyeless, you perceive only yourself,
fully contained beneath the sheer of luster. What is a face?
Valleys and peaks of glossed refusals, presenting itself to the world
though it can’t control what the world sees.
We layer years, sweaters, dreams.
What’s it like to be made of skin layers? Nothing to hold you up, no backbone.
Is this why you hide, folding into yourself? The wood too flows with memories
of growth, we all bear the scars of our own arrivals. We can’t even see them,
do you realize, we forget what we’re made of, our betrayals concealed
beneath something that appears to be good
You took off your dress,
yet I still see the curve of your spine
in the fading light
A river too has a mouth,
A tributary or a vein,
A watershed of juice
I am a floodplain for your tears
Where to find their end
or their beginning
The light hits the smudge, crepe, the bruise of
your skin, thinned memory of ___ and ___
I could stand on the thinnest layers
between myself and the world
Images by Jia Jia, text by Karolina Letunova