Writing on Skin

You urge me to use my blunt nail on your skin.
Just any word. I can’t think, then start ‘V’ –
a downstroke. Lift. Another. The drag of skin
under my index finger. ‘E – I – N’.

There’s nothing there to see. Invisible ink.
Like when, a kid, I was into lemon juice
for spy stuff, words that dried unseeable
and needed a flame to turn them sepia.

…eleven, twelve… you’re counting, and now ‘VEIN’
is burning through like on a polaroid.
Thin rosy weals on the parchment of your wrist.
The word I’ve chosen, written in my hand.

from The Getting of Vellum (Salmon/Blackwater Press, 2000), © Catherine Byron 2000, used by permission of the author and Salmon Poetry

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