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Tom's Poetry

Christmas Haiku

Loose Skin

The itching's awful
when I meet you
at your parents door,
but I tap my skin into place
and button down my sleeves and collar tight.

At the dinner table,
your little brother
spots my left ear slipping
and says it must be love.
My skin turns red
and I have to hold my hair
just to keep from falling apart.
Without even noticing,
you tell your brother
to shut up and eat.

With a spoonful of oatmeal,
suddenly my hand falls off
into a plate of milk, like a glove.
Your mind's on conversation,
but your mother smiles
as I slide my hand back on
and wipe it clean.

With a wink she says,
I think it's time we left you two alone.

We go to watch TV,
but I'm shedding patches of skin
with every step.
When we're alone,
you turn around and gasp,
and there I am, exposed,
my heart beating against my rib cage,
my lungs straining for air.

I try to apologize,
but in this naked state,
it must seem insincere.
You suggest I just
pick up my skin and leave.

Walking out the front door
with my armful of embarrassment,
I try to make apologies again,
and I think, hey, why don't we go see a movie?
But bitterly you answer,
why can't we just be friends?

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(C) 2/21/98 Tom Brinck