“Skin” by Chestina Craig

is the bodies first line of defense.

our metal shell wrap-around 
your body can confuse fortress for prison, my mother
is able to show me exactly where 
the cancer is growing.

this raw patch around pregnancy marks,
around a leg, her stomach, heart, beating.
my father has caressed it,
she has scrubbed it clean, 
it has touched everything I have. 
we are sharing more than I want,
these days her skin becomes a protector
she cannot trust. its red violent 
fruits claiming sunspots, claiming
a body. 

my mother jokes 
“can’t worry about cancer”
peels herself tangerine, 
does not know if this will swallow her, yet
she is becoming in front of us.

there are so many rotting trees 
dropping food & 
my mother mourns it all 
like she saw the future.


Chestina Craig lives in Long Beach, CA with her cat. Her work has been published by The Rising Phoenix Review, Button Poetry and others. She has presented her work at The Presidents Commission on The Status of Women, The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference, & more. She has a degree in Marine Biology, and sometimes pets sharks and hangs out with octopuses. She hopes that one day she will only be required to wear gauzy clothing, study the ocean, and get paid to have too many feelings. Her chapbook “body of water” came out this fall with Sadie Girl Press.

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