The closet door creaks open

She peers inside

Her eyes scrutinizing its contents

Neat, tidy rows of


Hanging in the dark

Waiting to be adorned


Thick and thin

Canvases that curl around

The bones that jut out at all angles

Coverings that seal in her organs

Her brain, her heart

Cloaks pockmarked with acne

With cellulite

With sprouts of hair

she thinks she needs new skins

Lighter skins, darker skins

Slimer skins, clearer skins

Hairless skins, smoother skins

To replace the old husks drying out

In the back of the closet

The ones she can’t part with yet

Every morning she shrugs on

Another casing

Enveloping herself

In a protective layer

Preparing to step outside

For a trek down the street

Some walks  require a thicker skin

Armor against cat callers

Who have nothing to say

Maybe a skin made with clenched fists built in

Or featuring hair that stands on end

Another skin for school

For the hallways

That don’t want to bare shoulders or knees

A hidden skin that knows its place

Draped under clothes meant to

Disguise the distraction it causes

A “thick skin” for work

Just firm enough

To be taken seriously

Tough enough

To deflect sexism

A bulky outer layer

To acclimate to each rung

On the ladder of success

Underneath the all the others

Is a skin she never has to put on

And never gets to take off

No matter how much she wants to

She was born with it

This one is the foundation

Already precisely tailored

This skin is who she is under the false ones

The skin that uses the others as shields

The skin that needs shelter from the elements

Or else it will crack and peel away from exposure

Her real skin

Her last line of defense


Author: Kelly Friday