The Scars of Restoration

When I pluck the feathers from your gown,
the trick is peeling off the skin.
Stretch it taut, rip it from the center out,
expose the tender weight beneath.
With needle and twine I stitch you back together,
make you an homage to what you were.
My nails darken with your blood while feathers fuse
along my palms, adorn my decolletage
with images of what has come before.
Rebuilding flesh is steady work,
threading in, threading out, plotting the lines
of a pattern I was born to know.

Our skin will bind at each juncture,
but I loop and intertwine in every pass, the way
your mother said a proper seam should show.
We could find a whole in strands of hair,
the stuff of nests, a magpie's wing.
You take my fingers, sew them to your new
left hand, and leave the rest.
There are always pieces left for flies,
for the phantom limbs we leave behind.
We tie pink lines that tense beneath the smallest snags,
piercing flesh with slender barbs of quill.
When the sutures find the final knot, we crumple
from our hooks and ask for what we know we cannot mend.

Poem originally appeared in Blue Earth Review Issue 12.