We Share the Same Skin

© By Ruth Carr

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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.

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