by Shawn Keller
In the place they called Augusta General in 1973, birth defects had to be profound to be noticed:
Humpbacked Mongoloids, Thalidomide Flipper Men . . .
But I, slipped by quietly ginger, with my soul born on the outside. Rusty and delicate as ginger skin, my soul is fair contrast to my hair’s pale fire. Science told me to be ginger
is to feel pain differently. It is true, so Very: Why shouldn’t it be? Our souls are on the outside, – and we give them away.
Elbow to shoulder we stand, and I pitch forward on this train, murmuring a quick “excuse me”, to her and my soul rubs off.
Just a quick moment; . . . just the briefest of touches: A fleck of paint after a hit and run, and a gleam of my soul, on her sweater.
Ordering coffee, I catch the barista’s hazel eye; a Wordless thankyou
passes between us.
A soupçon of my soul deposits in the tip jar.
It is joked that to be born ginger is to have no soul at all; a freckle for every soul I have stolen. I am no thief. Or worse. Mine are dents, scrapes, nicks; badges of distinction, medals of honor. A touch, a glance, a handshake, a kindness, a moment, and
part of my eternity is gone:
I am the sand grain in a bivalve, making – a pearl. I am the grit in a rock tumbler, polishing the stones. Like a Muse
keeping nothing to myself, I wax your soul with mine.
A lifetime tumbling among the humans, an eternity of charity
written on my skin,
chafed raw by the effort. When I burn with
the sun, I burn . . . for you.
Photo credit: Transtract – 0111 – Onion Dome. The Vac of Wetdryvac.net