Second Skin
Ann Lauinger

Second Skin

Loving you so long my love
has outlived similes
and metaphors.
I love you: that’s that.
I mean, that’s not “this”
or “like this.” 
Only I keep on thinking
You’re my second skin.
And just like hitting the slots,
all the other seconds
come tumbling out,
frisking like spring lambs:
second fiddle, second sight,
Second-Hand Rose,
second banana, second string,
second helpings,
I second that (e)motion,
manufacturers’ seconds,
Shakespeare’s second-best bed,
but they aren’t what I mean.
Second skin’s not
spare, some extra sock
or glove that’s backup
for a favorite pair. I can’t
spare you, not for a second,
and I can’t talk about
what looms, so vast,
so close a thing being parted
it’s past reckoning
or words weighed.
You might as well ask
Marsyas to describe being flayed.

Ann Lauinger

is the author of three books of poetry: Dime Saint, Nickel Devil (Broadstone Books, 2022), Against Butterflies (Little Red Tree, 2013), and Persuasions of Fall (U. of Utah, 2004), which won the Agha Shahid Ali Prize. Her poems have appeared in journals such as the Georgia Review, Lightwood, Parnassus, Southern Poetry Review, and Valley Voices, as well as on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily and in anthologies including The Bedford Introduction to Literature and I Wanna Be Loved By You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe.