Poetry by Alison Hurwitz

Birthmark


It’s something someone else could use

if needed to identify my body in a morgue:

a telltale splotch across the softer skin

within my inner arm.


It might well be a Scottie or a Poodle,

head cocked in profile, silhouetted there,

staring out across my child’s jaw-grimaced

bicep, which flexing for the win, I’d hope to feel

a magical bestirring, some jostle of improbable bark,

a sudden shift of freckles frolicking like mad

around my arm.


Perhaps a donkey: long-eared, stubborn

as dry-cracked and clotted clay through which the plough of effort

pulls. Something so indomitable to bare its teeth, delay

if hay were not forthcoming. It was always on its way

to somewhere caramel, somewhere I would covet in the 80’s,

faced with the unfair exclusion of my pale white arms

when everyone was tan.


My son thinks it’s a rocket ship,

revved and ready to blast off and break through

barriers of space and time and skin, to pass its fiery wake

along to him, that thought of the impossible made possible

strewing stardust all along its path. From time to time,

I squint at it, quizzical, suspicious; at my age, one can’t be too careful,

monitoring its margins for any sign of error, any widening gyre.


Perhaps some night while I’m asleep I’ll dream the dog and donkey meet

and come together, board a rocket ship called Birthmark, streaming

melanin tails, to journey through the galaxy of me, pinwheeling

freckles free like flecks of treacle starlight, instead of what’s supposed

to be a cell-based silhouette. My birthmark barks at patriarchs,

pell-mell, around my arm, braying my own name across a spill of stars:


embellishing my imperfect flesh with insurrection,

with its own diminutive profusion, with its dapple of irregular:

my body’s small asymmetry ascending into generous acceptance,

marking my own human form with awkward, constellated grace.



© Alison Hurwitz 10/21. All Rights Reserved.