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Scar (1978)

Bi Janus

Your stare has as its focus

not some distance of dissociation

but me as I peel the dressing

as I would the skin of an orange.

Your aspect is the one you

show when seeing something novel.

We have turned half-circle

caregiver and caretaker,

changing poles as we age.

You, father and mother both,

loving to me in my difference,

now in disease submit to me.

Perhaps you raised me

just for this employment,

but not for yourself alone.

The lesson here is almost

the last you impart to me.

You are unashamed at needing

intimate help.

You do not seem weak as you ask

this favor of me.

I know you would find a way

if I, in favor of your motherhood,

found myself unable.

The livid gash where once

your right breast lay,

knitted as a moccasin is sewn,

is the outward sign

of your life course,

jagged, a peregrination.

Now my erotic compass

is oriented, and you

are more friend

than idealized womanhood.

The peroxide, the careful

examination for suppuration,

and then, a fresh, sterile skin

is replaced, carefully taped.

Still, the touch of your hand

comforts me as it did

when I was only your child.

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