March 2013: “Clean”

Readers Write

Picture 6Here’s the winner of our Readers Write column for March, for which the theme was “clean.” Amber Shockley, thank you for submitting this poem.


Amber Shockley

Believe me,
I would scour my whole body
if I thought clean would become a curse
I could live with. No more dirty soles
or skin collected beneath the nails.
No dust, no dander – a wonder,
the bleached, plucked skin. I would
do this. Believe me?
Like Jesus’ flesh refined to a whisper
of thin wafer, blood juiced down to
a pierced grape’s single tear. Instead I
Repent, Repent – Rinse, repeat.
Slough and pumice.
I soap my breasts and sex,
fingers collect the feel of hair,
moles, send them to my brain’s sensors.
I recountcant some sin.
Somesintimes I nibble the pink
oval of glycerin, sulfate in my hand.
Sometimes I press the wash rag in
my open eyes, so they sting.
I wonder how I got so dirty,
a girl who made it her life’s journey to stay
kind and clean.

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