Skin

Written by: Grace EunSong Lee


This night, I am trapped behind a face. 
My eyes are barred with tears that blur 
the look in them I would like so much for you to see.
I try a different face, one that splits into a smile at the lips
but the teeth are whitewashed, and they encage
a voice—a song—a story—that needs air to breathe.
Anger means I must glower, perhaps brighten my 
pale cheeks with artificial colors. Who was it 
that said blood within must always be crimson?
I choose laughter next, but I am tired of my own laugh;
it has stayed the same for countless years
and the sound is so distant that I cannot hear it 
from deep down there inside my heart. 
This night, I cannot bear this face I wear
for it is too small a field for my emotions to play.
There are lips, red again, meant for speech
but the words I utter must always be of some language,
one or another I must choose amongst the millions
made by these same lips in revolutionary times. 
There are eyes, “windows”, they have always been called
but the cutting winds have long since deprived 
them of their original clarity—now they are clouded, dull, 
and always cleansed back to nothingness by constant tears.
This night, I cannot bear this face I wear. 

So I plunge my fingers into the skin, tearing it away,
feeling the wind scream and rush into the vast space,
swirling down the tunnel toward that heart at the bottom
that is thumping with anxiety; it has long awaited this day.
A day of freedom, a day to shoot up into view, 
when nothing is contorted and fitted into words, 
tears, smiles, sounds, colors…. 
My faceless face gapes at the night sky, where stars 
hold together another faceless face,
and the feelings, tangled and ripe, ripe from all the anticipation
shout and hurtle upwards like a pack of angels.