The lady at a Clinique counter
said I've got summer skin,
a type hard to cover with soft colors she sells,
so drugstore reds, darkyellowpinks, and gold
mask my face, match my clothes
to the fire raging in my cheeks
even through winter months of snow storms.
I survive wrapped in sweaters,
under wool blankets
disguising skin from itself,
from its potential to sweat
tears of existence through July and August
reminding me if there's a hell, it's close by
pulling my body into its mouth
with the earth's rotation
matching my complexion.
My skin doesn't sweat, it winks to me;
cleanses my thoughts, blinds my eyes
from traffic and road signs as I make left turns
onto any street--Sartre was right.
There's no exit from myself,
from the nature any cosmetics expert can detect.
Something hot stirs in my blood; it finds kinship
with Busch Gardens's alligators
boiling in water tanks.
The angry scales on their backs are cubes of heat;
steam rises from my poison kiss
into a Kentucky winter's embrace,
injecting dead air with faster moving molecules that
disperse to death--cold enters: Ikillitkillsme,
but I am comforted
imagining how the world might consume herself
through this alchemy
with a baptismal flame to purge my ashes,
stirring them into an offering of gold
that the winter king might recognize
as natural beauty of his own mis-making.
BIO: Cindy Childress is working on a Ph. D.
in creative writing and women's studies at the University of
Lafayette. She co-hosts the monthly reading series, Breathing Space, and
recently shared her poetry at the Graduate Women's Studies Symposium at
York University in Toronto. Cindy's work has been published recently in
the Austin International Poetry Anthology 2004, The Southwestern
Review, The Canadian Women's Studies Journal, and can be found on
the CD, Vital Signs: The Primal Sessions. Email: