beautiful skin

Poem: Beautiful Skin

When I was in the fifth grade,

My mama used to tell me I had

Beautiful skin—

I didn’t believe her.

My skin was awkward and heavy,

As though it belonged to someone else.

I had skin that stretched and wrapped itself around me

Too many times over

I had skin that was jiggly and wiggly,

Skin that rolled over on top of my jeans

Like it wanted to escape

So when Mama said:

“You have beautiful skin,”

I knew she couldn’t mean it in the actual sense

Beautiful skin didn’t have skid marks racing across it,

Like it was the scene of a bad accident

Beautiful skin didn’t roll over and perform tricks

Like mine did.

But I never asked Mama what she meant,

Until I grew out of my skin

And the miles of stretchy fabric that was my body became, instead,

Yards of muscle and taut, actually beautiful skin

And when Mama started calling me “skinny,”

When she declared with pride how good I looked now,

I understood that “beautiful skin”

Had been code for fat