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





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