Scars

Some of her scars were public

The small lines on her knuckles

From the sharp wooden siding

Of the exterior garage walls

Of the house where she grew up

Learning to ride her bike

In ever widening circles


The amoeba-like masses on her knees

From going over the handlebars

Of her next bike

In an attempt

To avoid a head-on collision

With another child

Riding like the wind


She remembers her mother

Picking embedded stones and gravel

Slowly and painstakingly

Out of the wounds

While humiliated tears of pain

Rolled down her face


The half-moon on her wrist

From middle school shop class

From the claw end of a hammer

While inexpertly trying

To remove a nail from a board

Coming perilously close

To an artery, making her queasy


The multiple puncture wounds

On her right arm

And teeth marks

On the inside of her wrist from a

Frightened cat stuck

Under a piece of furniture

A valuable lesson learned


The thin bumpy necklace

From a partial thyroidectomy

That she started making up

Colorful stories about

When ignorant young women

Pointed and whispered

In the subway station

Her favorite was about a knife fight


Some of her scars

Were known only to

Her lovers and doctors

Like the two C-section scars

Like intersecting

Twisted vines

Remarkably short in length

Given the eight and then nine and half

Pound babies pulled forcefully

Out of those small openings


The first had been an emergency

Surgery after her blood pressure

Started to crash

She hadn’t realized

That one could get from the

Delivery room

To the operating room

To having her body surgically

Unzipped in less than ten minutes


The second c-section had

Been a calmer, unhurried event

After almost 36 hours of labor

She vomited in her hair in the OR

And still remembered the

Kind anesthesiologist

Who cleaned her up with a towel

The doctor was late

The aesthesia wore off

Before they finished stitching her up


These still itched and ached

Some days

Despite the passage of the years

Reminders that she owed her life

And the life of her children

To modern medicine


Then there were the

Other scars

The ones on her heart

The ones on her soul

Most old, some newer

Some were thin and had healed

Relatively quickly


Some were thick, corded

So deep that they had

Altered the topography

Puckering and pulling

The edges out

Of their original shape

On a permanent basis


Some had been inflicted by

Others when she had been

Young and helpless

Unable to protect herself

She still had a hard time

Looking at photos of herself at that age

Seeing just how young she was

Acknowledging that vulnerability


Some had formed when she was

A teenager and then a young woman

In romantic relationships

That stung, that burned

Etching her with their acid

And in unrequited loves

Where she knew she should walk away

But enthralled, as if by a snake charmer

She stayed, accepting the lash of the whip


But she acknowledged

That some of these scars

Were self-inflicted

Some caused by self-hatred

And those were the ones

That she would sometimes

Still worry, make raw

Like a dog with a sore

On its paw

2 thoughts on “Scars

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