We Share the Same Skin
© By Ruth Carr
For my mother
We shared the same skin, your touch
Home to my body. To grow up
I built walls, defining
Where you ended and I began.
It was a child sulking to shut
You out. You waited, a quiet
Stream for me to surface in.
That’s where to find you now –
Hunkered down on a river bank
Needle or pencil in hand, sometimes
Pins in your mouth, sometimes humming,
Or leant against some stubborn
Wind-spend tree. You showed me that
Obvious thing – that under the skin
There’s human, that dressing up is
A game fit only for children.
That obvious thing that nobody does –
You did it most times,
Shared your skin with so many,
I needed to know you loved
Me more than any old refugee.
I walled up inside, let my body
Go begging for crumbs like poor Tom,
A craving that couldn’t find centre.
But we shared the same skin
And when yours grew too tired
And too yellow to care –
With a child of my own but still
Not grown up, I couldn’t let go
Until prodigal waters burst
Mortar from brick, I broke through
To your salt-bedded river.
We share the same skin, my daughter
And me. She’s building walls
To define where I end
And she can make a beginning.