Skin remembers how long the years grow when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel of singleness, feather lost from the tail of a bird, swirling onto a step, swept away by someone who never saw it was a feather. Skin ate, walked, slept by itself, knew how to raise a see-you-later hand. But skin felt it was never seen, never known as a land on the map, nose like a city, hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope. Skin had hope, that's what skin does. Heals over the scarred place, makes a road. Love means you breathe in two countries. And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass, deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own. Even now, when skin is not alone, it remembers being alone and thanks something larger that there are travelers, that people go places larger than themselves.
Naomi Shihab Nye - 1952-
Once on a plane a woman asked me to hold her baby and disappeared. I figured it was safe, our being on a plane and all. How far could she go? She returned one hour later, having changed her clothes and washed her hair. I didn't recognize her. By this time the baby and I had examined each other's necks. We had cried a little. I had a silver bracelet and a watch. Gold studs glittered in the baby's ears. She wore a tiny white dress leafed with layers like a wedding cake. I did not want to give her back. The baby's curls coiled tightly against her scalp, another alphabet. I read new new new. My mother gets tired. I'll chew your hand. The baby left my skirt crumpled, my lap aching. Now I'm her secret guardian, the little nub of dream that rises slightly but won't come clear. As she grows, as she feels ill at ease, I'll bob my knee. What will she forget? Whom will she marry? He'd better check with me. I'll say once she flew dressed like a cake between two doilies of cloud. She could slip the card into a pocket, pull it out. Already she knew the small finger was funnier than the whole arm.