The Intimacy of Eczema

by Rachel van Aalst

“Eczema: an inflammatory condition of the skin characterized by redness,
itching, and…lesions which become scaly, crusted, or hardened.”
—The Merriam Webster Dictionary

“Even the blind can easily witness with a little soulful reflection.”
—RJ Blizzard

Here at the start,
my hand enveloped in unfamiliar skin,
you love to stroke the bumps on my knuckles,
in between my fingers,
reading them like Braille.

You hope they’ll tell you where I run to
when the water levels rise,
or what thoughts occur to me when I rest my head.
You retrace every hill and hollow,
memorizing each imagined word coded
in a landscape that’s different
today and tomorrow.

As you come to know me,
these patterns and ridges become synonymous
with first dancing touch to tectonic love.
My staccato skin spells out for you
full body contentment
in just the space
from palm to fingertip.

With a prescription for landscape evolution—
a less busy life,
less sugar in my tea—
the lowland rifts begin to disappear.

Say you’ll continue to explore these places
once my skin has healed.
Circle my un-cracked knuckles with your thumb.
Let your contour lines chart the stretches of my own,
and as those lines deepen to wrinkles,
continue to lock your weathered hands with mine.
Say there is always something left to discover.

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