Valerie Witte



of skin
a preliminary
sorting when
what lies
the loss
of space
then opening was
a simple








Made in sand, ash or mud, we were clay | sheets assembled, a recruitment of parts                                 

volcanic: a rupture in the interiors stretched and thinned | repeatedly

the invention of skin | As the body brought her edges slow, allowances

given | for artillery a cartridge, ribbons, for tires | and she proved ideal for parachutes

performed well in surgery | where sutures could join the lips

of a wound stitched | Damaged and demanding, through

moisture and air |one

of the fastenings employed at the junction of two | immovable

articulations, the skull itself

a seam formed, in sewing | lipids fill spaces

for agile, grasping hands | and feet | When

she questioned the usefulness of plants, a mesher made apertures, expanding nine times |








Where tactile travelers tread | upon threat of oblivion: the land of our ancestors, where

all the bones are | the earliest comprehensive map | we move within

our limited range, keeping the young indoors | A skeleton built to falter, organs     

extensive, burned |and replication is a parchment dried: weathering | for writing | If

thickened, subtracted | constantly renewed to molt four times & a shadow

mounting | reconstruction, which is critical |

she was a collection of wounds trying to heal themselves | a shallow

basket, walls interwoven

concentric, a fissure near the mouth extruded | A matrix, for support |

a lampshade, for baking | Contraction in deformity | harvest a spinneret, subject

to a steaming, a stifling yarn |








Before reeling | let us perforate slow, a paddle and invisible milk mixed

in the coils | To reduce adhesion in the topmost layer, accounted for smoother

removal, pitching | to distinguish faces immersed in boiling water, literally

raising the hairs | when grooming was a sun about acid to peel | Bound closely, within

confines evolved a streamlined shape | if we could recall the loss

of gills | the way a stain fades when pushed | How

she could maintain her shape | as a salmon patch or a stork bite might

darken in cries | temperature changing our hooves rendered

mechanically weaker, never failing | to reduce stress most

are pink as flat on the back of the neck

a blemish bleeds, as in hysteria the first months of life in certain bodies

recording | From the feminine "wrongful, unjust," caused by curiosity, cutting |








When what lies dormant for years suddenly | reappears, though none of these

supplanted vision, a preliminary sorting | Sunken | On the surface

of iron attested to "redness," stems, etcetera | pilorection, when touching

was social were we faster to adapt to the presence of predators, then

finding our way out of rooms hairless

much harder | than opening

is a simple mouth increasing flow to the face | of blood | these walls relaxed

to patterns | of pores, beads or shells

a set of instructions | Followed | And she waited for the skin to regenerate | if female

receptive, stimulating smooth within the chest swollen |

an honest, livid signal | If she could lie

down at the rust site to heal, naturally, without a scar: laminated |




I dreamt I wrote a book called Silkyard—and when I woke up, I decided I had to do just that. I then read a book about silk and another on the anthropology of skin. I interwove what I learned in those texts with my own experiences, in particular the minor physical traumas related to skin and other seemingly superficial physical flaws that, despite their apparent insignificance, ultimately have, over a lifetime, taken an emotional toll. The book is thus very personal while touching on experiences of all humans—what our bodies go through over time as individuals and as a species.