The Integumentary System
It is what the world sees,
from ivory to ebony,
symbolic of heritage and health.
It advances with age—
the more lines,
the longer the timeline.
Twenty-two square feet of a durable, elastic material,
sometimes marred with scars,
or uneven pigments—
indicative of disease—
it drapes our muscles,
a cutaneous covering
that secrets the workings underneath.
In shades of white-blond
it is a glorious crown;
sometimes it’s sensitive
and has a bad day.
Some is fine and straight,
both enduring color and heat
in the name of beauty.
It frames the eyes like fans,
adds ten years to young men’s faces,
or falls out,
adding ten years to old men’s heads.
It was the glory of Samson,
Jo March’s independent currency.
It is shaved in protest and
in camaraderie for others with cancer;
it is refrained from clipping for salvation’s sake,
even as it is sold for its preciousness.
The weapons of mass seduction,
painted in assorted colors,
and sometimes the indigestible chewable
of a nervous habit.
Whether weapons in defense of rape,
or branding tools of mates during orgasm,
they are the crescent moons
that grow on the ends of fingers.
It is the cover we wear—
easily changed through chemicals,
It encompasses the cup fillings
that nourish the children,
that make children of men,
that must not move
in polite society.
And for some women,
it must all be covered,
for it offends a man’s perception of
the God who created such heavenly creatures.