A Letter from the Last Scar

by Jackie Smith

I know that I don’t look like the others,
those silver ribbons, smooth as whispering petals.
I was left an ugly violet-red wrinkled smile.
I know I was never meant to be raised
up from the curved pale skin of your thigh.
The gold blade is now housed
in an orange prescription bottle.
To you I am a neon sign that reads
FAILURE. Another weapon in the war
against yourself. The arsenal includes a degree
collecting dust, the endless roar of conveyor belts,
your empty womb, your emptier bed.
I know you feel like you are being lapped
in a race you weren’t aware we were running.

I know there is no race.

I know that you were kind to yourself for years,
held recovery like a string of pearls around your wrists.
I know I came along and knocked
down the tower of blocks you were so
carefully climbing.

When you went to the beach
I was convinced you would drown me
beneath a bandage, slather me with shame.
Instead, you let the sun caress me. You carried me
into the ocean, your first time.
You realized then what I’ve known all along.
You are not a sinking stone.
Together, we floated on infinite blue.
Warm and weightless.
Still alive.

I know we are more than the mistakes
that molded us. The tissue grows
back stronger. A shared resilience.
Someday
there will be a pair of hands that strips
you down and doesn’t see me as proof
you are broken, or that you need to be saved,
or that the only option is to run.
They will see you as more than this
skin. They’ll see you,
surviving.

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