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Salmon Poetry

The Getting of Vellum (excerpt)

Catherine Byron

Have you ever scribbled a telephone number, or a name
on the handy back of your hand?
Written something there on your own soft skin,
pressed and tickled across the grain of you
with the fine running point of a ballpoint pen?
It has the right ink that’ll slide on
oily and easy, and stay there for hours.
Even a soapy scrub of your hand
won’t shift it altogether.
It’s perfect for jotting something down
in a hurry, something you need to hold onto
oh, for less than a day, maybe,
but vital for that day.
Paper is flighty, easy to lose,
and it isn’t always to hand.
You’ll not, after all, mislay
your own skin – will you?

Unlike the animal – lamb, or kid, or calf –
whose skin has been stripped off,
scraped clean of life’s paraphernalia,
– flesh – fat – hair –
and transformed, even transfigured, into parchment
or – in the case of the calf – vellum
for the writing of the Word.


Copyright Catherine Byron 2000

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