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