Feeling Like a Freak
A little red mark,
the size of a raspberry
on the inside of my elbow
upset my mother
when I was born.
“I never had a mark on me,” she said
over the years
gazing anxiously at it.
“It’s probably from
your father’s side
of the family.”
I was too busy playing dolls and
roller skating to think about it,
but when it was as big as a strawberry
she made some little white covers that
snapped closed over it.
They matched my pinafores.
The cover slipped and got grimy when I climbed trees
or jumped in autumn leaves.
Friends, grocers,and Clem,
the red-faced cop by the school crossing,
noticed and asked,
“What’s wrong with your arm?”
Strangled with shyness,
“I have a birthmark.”
I began to feel like a freak.
Then the doctor, who smelled like medicine,
took the little white cover off one day
and threw it away.
“You don’t need it covered,” he said.
Looking at me with a smile, he added,
“That’s where you were kissed by an angel.”
I don’t know when it went away. Liz Southwood, June 30’96