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The hymn of skin

In the March 3, 2010 issue of JAMA, there is a poem by Sarah Wells called “Hymn of Skin.”  While I enjoyed the whole poem, my favorite part is: Plastic surgeon of the heavens, how I delight in a furrowed brow, crow’s feet, age spots— wrinkle me up a dozen times to show I lived […]

In the March 3, 2010 issue of JAMA, there is a poem by Sarah Wells called “Hymn of Skin.”  While I enjoyed the whole poem, my favorite part is:

Plastic surgeon of the heavens, how I delight
in a furrowed brow, crow’s feet, age spots—
wrinkle me up a dozen times to show I lived
hard, good, funny—after all beauty, being what it is,

is only skin deep—may my soul seep through
dry scales of later hands, resting tranquil in my lap.
O omniscient dermatologist, what ingenuity,
past hurts evident in scrapes and scars—

a clumsy stumble down uneven concrete stairs,
knees and ankle raw and dripping; pockmarked cheeks
from teenage zits—all healed, in the end, but not forgotten.
How often we need reminders of where we’ve been.

Dr. Ramona Bates is a plastic surgeon in Little Rock, Arkansas, who writes regularly at Suture for a Living.

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