While most women get to go to the plastic surgeon for a lift, I have to go to get basil cells removed. I grew up near the beach at a time when no one knew a thing about the long term damage of the sun. Every time I pass one of those tanning salons and I think of all the people baking themselves in these UV coffins, I cringe.
The only upside of this is that my poem on this subject, Shaded, just came out in the South Carolina Review.
With basal cells rising on my body like dots
in a Seurat, I am la femme who walks stiffly
beneath the domed shadow from her parasol.
After my first summer
day of chasing piping plovers
that skittered on wiry feet
toward the tide, then kneeling
to scoop up crabs that tickled
my palms, I’d be housebound
a week, shirtless,
slathered in Noxema,
my nipples red dimes.
Soon came the frenzied scratching
with the edge of Mom’s metal yardstick,
then peeling off the pale flakes.
At puberty, anointed with baby oil and iodine,
I lay face up, a reflector held at my chin,
a silver chute for the sun’s rays at high noon.
Now the hem of my skirt skirts the yellow-
green grass. The sleeves of my tunic are down
to my wrists. I wear a brimmed hat.
My arm aches from holding up the parasol
I carry every day, not just Sundays,
on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.