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I stay up all night reading about skin
but it doesn’t really help I just know
lots of words now like ectodermal
which is another name for the layers
that protect what’s underneath
organs ligaments bones etc
interface is the name of what the skin
does with the environment being
the internal environment’s first line
of defence against external factors
all mammals even marine animals
have hair on their skin though they
appear hairless every hair has a small
muscle or pili which allows hair
to be raised when cold or in a
heightened emotional state
and even though at this time of night
wiki can begin to sound like a poem
about how we’re all tiny rooms of
consciousness covered in skin that
can express emotion and whose top layers
are all dead and constantly shedding
as you touch things still I’m left
like a crazy person searching through
all the pictures that contain your hands
remembering the exact awakeness
of my skin all down that side the last
time you touched me why are hands
so intimate anyway we use them
for such varied private/public acts
we fear they know us too well they will
announce our intentions or maybe
because they are what our bodies think with
we trust touch more than other things
you touch me so I know you are real
in the way I need you to be real
or I avoid touching you at all costs
because the way I touch you cannot
be a lie the skin is different on the hands
more fixed to the bone on the palm side
thinner and looser on the other to
accommodate movement using tools
making a fist most importantly
the action of opening and closing
or grasping as a species we are
defined by our ability to reach for
and hold onto things or to
choose not to
Daisy Behagg won the Bridport prize for poetry 2013. She has been widely published in journals including The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Ambit and Poems in Which. She has performed at events across the UK from Shambala and Boomtown festivals to the Edinburgh Book Festival, and runs intersectional feminist poetry and spoken word night Yeah Yeah She Said. She is a student mental health nurse and lives in Brighton.
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