Ode To The Skin Check

by Phyllis Klein*

For my dermatologist, Dr. E.G.

Oh splendid skin, major organ unashamed,
external, interweaving of warp and weft
on loom of a body. Familiar with cancers,
this skin, sensitive, too close to the sun, burned
with ultraviolet ghosts of rays haunting its surface
when adolescents on picnics at beaches wouldn’t be caught dead
with umbrellas. Days of bare heads, before invention of sunscreen,
days of baby-oil with iodine and sun reflecting foils
recommended to increase the tan that never came.
Only blisters, scales, pomegranate
colored burns. Aloe lotions, Noxemas melting
into scalded expanse. Do not forget me
and what I have to say.

Oh splendid skin check, dermatologist peering
into skin’s finished fabric for defects, rough spots, basals,
night-spider-bites of melanoma.  Oh biopsies, slivers
of parchment-thin fiber sliced for microscopes. Oh, waiting for results.
For knowledge learned too late, written into cellular memory,
Icarus in a free fall, or six more months of absolution.

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Author Bio: Phyllis Klein is a psychotherapist and poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her new book, The Full Moon Herald  from Grayson Books is a newspaper of poetry and has won honorable mention in poetry for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2021. During the Pandemic she has  continued regular life-saving skin checks, taken up exercising with YouTube, and starting a reading called Poets in Conversation.  You may reach her at: Email

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