A Skin of Me All the Way Down, For dVerse Poets, Jan 26, 2022


A Skin of Me All the Way Down

“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin.”- Arts, Jim Harrison

I leave a skin of me all the way down,
shedding my body 
like petals of a flower
as I go down
through hard edges
I scrape against,
leaving parts of me
against the walls
as I fall down
into the place
where blood runs together
into a bowl which breaks
and spills into earth
which sinks down
into space which is a hole that is
the middle of a world falling down.

My dust falls after me
as I fall
to the horizon
of my center­­—
that hard stone
whose discovery

 is our purpose
 for going down.

The edge of me
is almost gone
from falling down.

My center,
clean pip stone,
hangs from a stem
caught in the beak of a
mockingbird that’s cawing, “Up.”

Motes on the dust of its wings
pull me up
while I still want to be down.

The bird with my mother’s hands
pulls me up,
voice from a dream
of childhood,
and pulling me up.

Up through the walls
of the world which
puts my skin back.
Away from the parts of me
left on the floor 
 that are not coming up.

Wings beat me up,
pulling my layers
back over and
around me,
pulling my life
back up to me—

the spelling bees
and the recipe
for rhubarb jam
and our secret
family pattern for
cutout May baskets
and car payments—

all the skin of of me coming up
along with accordion music
 and  geometry,

and I rise up
through the dust
of chalkboard erasers
beaten on the school fire escape
and broken tea sets
and mud pies
and the stillborn calf
and taxes.

Let me go back down,
I plead,
but still, I rise.

Wings pull me up
and the bird holds
my invisible wrappings
in its beak
by the string
that ties me to the up,

and though I chew at it
and rip it with the hands
I’ve grown back rising up,

and though I cry out
for my release,
the sun rises,
I rise up
with it,
a part of me
still pleading,
“Let me fall down.”


For dVerse poets, we were to write a poem based on a line from  Jim Harrison. Go HERE to read more poems written to this prompt.

34 thoughts on “A Skin of Me All the Way Down, For dVerse Poets, Jan 26, 2022

  1. Ain

    Raw, beguiling, intense, almost savage, but fluid and emotional. Really very powerful poetry. I am not sure I dare read it again though I know I must, and when I do even more of it will become apparent to me. Superb writing, personal, and inspiring for the quality and style..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M. Oniker

    What a beautiful response to that prompt. I’ve seen a few great posts from it; it seems to be bringing out the best in folks. 🙂 I love the rhythm, the pacing, the imagery, the… everything of this poem, right down to the evocative shape. :::applause:::


    1. lifelessons Post author

      Except I had it wrong.. it was a Poet, Jim Harrison, that the line came from. I looked at it and saw Morrison. I liked his music, too, and thought these were obscure songs I’d never heard. Easy to believe one has forgotten anything lately.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rothpoetry

    This is most beautifully done, Judy! The struggle of life and death is always at conflict within the winderness of who we are as humans. This line brought back some good memories for me…
    and I rise up
    through the dust
    of chalkboard erasers
    beaten on the school fire escape


    1. lifelessons Post author

      In sixth grade, it was a great honor to be able to climb through the big window and go out on the fire escape to beat the chalkboard erasers against the railing to rid them of their chalk powder. Must have looked like fine snow from the classroom down below. And that railing was always white with chalkdust.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Linda Lee. It was a much different poem that I wrote thirty years ago or more that I slashed and burned…taking some lines, omitting others, changing the order and adding to it. I know…hard to imagine a longer poem than this..but it ended up being about something very different than what it originally was. Sort of like taking an old dress, ripping it apart and making it into an entirely new garment. It would be a good exercise for dVerse, actually. It makes one really examine their work closely and also reveals how the poem now reflects how they have changed.

      Liked by 1 person


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