June 28, 2019

Laura Judge

SKIN

Doing dishes,
probing with my tongue

the errant hair
above my lip,

toothpickish
in consistency,

I remember my student,
a ninth grader,

whose botched attempt
to remove her mustache

left her with burn marks.
She must have used a kit.

Her mother made her
come to school.

Her father, the famous
violin maker, whom I

read about in the Times,
made her come to school.

Boyish and sneaker-clad,
my student is beautiful

in a hidden way. Likable,
self-contained, a loner.

I, too, tried to wax
the hair from my upper lip

when the word salon
was not so ubiquitous.

Teenage angst was—
so I opened a cupboard

while my mother attended church,
then melted the wax

in a stainless steel pot
where it stuck,

and then I panicked
when my mother came home

and lost her religion,
not realizing

that I’d snuck around
because I didn’t know how

to say I needed help.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019

__________

Laura Judge: “When I was an MFA student in fiction writing, one of my lit professors brought in Emily Dickinson’s ‘I Dwell in Possibility.’  I wasn’t a poet then, but I think it’s the moment the seed planted itself because her poem about poetry moved me so deeply, so unexpectedly.  My poem also surprised me, showing up on a Friday night like a knock at the door from a stranger. But, when I answered, I saw my much younger self, terribly vulnerable. Hovering behind was my student who had reminded me that few girls survive adolescence without some wounding.”

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