Allie Marini Batts


This is me              coming to you naked,
not just                   skin-naked,              but             under-the-skin naked,
the black bands    of eyeliner                carefully    washed away
from                        my face,                    which even before becoming scarred and wrong,
                  was unbearable to me in its averageness—there is nothing
quite           so cruel           in life
than to be a girl                 who           isn't wholly
pretty                     or          ugly,          but instead somewhere in-between,
because then,                                        you're just not memorable at all.

here's some more                       under-the-skin naked:          my shelf life is four years.
no man                                         has ever                                     lasted longer than that with me.
But I think                                   they'd agree                              it was a good four years, mostly—
if for no other reason                than the extraordinary things
I learned to do with my            ordinary mouth                        but even those things
are not enough to have             ever                                             made love work
or to make me                             stay                                             when my ordinary mouth unhinged,
learned new tricks                      like                                              spitting poison, snakelike,
fangs milked                                                                                     on naked skin, exposed & white
like the underbellies of alligators                          waiting                        to roll you.

Skin & under-the-skin naked           I am                       the sloughed off stocking of a water snake
draped over a cypress knee       fragile                & musky, dark like a damp pile of leaves
still slightly smelling of the holding pond         unremarkable              except for my markings
scars keeled like scales                        bright colorations              which, in nature
are usually indicative                                                                                      of venomous creatures.

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