Crackling old records and tangled old tapes make up
our tough onion skin and the rings that hold us together
but they don’t have to. We can discard them like leaflets
that promise prosperity or jars of snake oil we’ve stacked
in our cupboards for nearly a lifetime.
Come as you are, I said, but I guessed you wouldn’t. Too pungent ,
you’d think, to crack that rib cage open and reveal your rotten heart.
You wouldn’t want to make the eyes water or the delicate ones scatter,
but I am not so delicate. I know what you call rotten
is just something deep and wounded, and the color comes
from what you’ve used to hide it – it is your mineral rich mussel shell
and it is beautiful to me. Put your warts on display, I won’t run.
I will trace the lines of your scars with tender fingertips and new promises.
I will not give you new ones in between professions of love
and pride in being loved. I will offer to you a balm for all the ugly things
you think you are, and that is love. Applied generously
in all those fortified places of yours that no one has ever seen.
Come as you are, I said, and you did.
Please make sure you stay long enough to sprout
into something obstinate and green.