Thin Skin: An Index (excerpt)

Written by Yanna Cassell.


An alternative pronunciation, the adding of an extra letter.
It’s a greeting from mother's lips a kiss to my father
other times it’s more of a quick pop to my mouth
sharp and rapt.

Too warm, I wipe my forehead, the water fades into my dress.
The first stone cast.

Brown sugar baby.
when he says it she’ll understand
one day soon,
when his weathered hand
stretches out. Cupping her curves
they’ve just been smoothed out
feels like yesterday. He traces the work
of the marble stopping
in the ridges. How beautiful
she is. How new adult she is!
she’ll wonder,
should admiration make bile rise to your throat?
But it’s all in sweetness, brown sugar.
(See also: colored, coiled)

I want to get married in one perched
precariously on the edge of a mountain,
falls better in God’s eyeline.
This wish hasn’t explained itself to me:
Barely high enough to climb a pew I dozed in,
I tried to find colorful pages in the aged book
maybe I need there to be someone else to bless my union,
even though sitting in one made my insides twist
a plea for forgiveness.

Tight around my mother’s finger. Pink lotion and jam smooth my edges.

A crippling feeling of being different. While also the endearing feeling of being known.

The pavement in my driveway burns
the pads of my feet though my mother has told me
to put on shoes. I don’t mind jumping
from foot to foot, so long as I reach the sprinkler.
The grass is soggy like Cheerios on my Monday
mornings, the hot pavement evens out
my temperature. My mother yells at me to put on
my shoes, inside it’s hotter than the pavement,
I’m choking, spicy fingers grip right around my
neck. Tears squeeze passed my eyelids but
euphoria outpaces them. My grandmother
drops another pepper in saying
it will burn me inside
hollow out the settled grime.