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Vanishing Scars

Janet Kuypers

“They tell you how it was...
and how it happened
again and again. They tell
the slant life takes when it turns
and slashes your face as a friend.”

            — William Stafford, from “Scars”

Any wound is real, he says,
and yes, it’s true, I know it.*
For the faces of promise
are also the places
the scars will be.

Yes, bright-eyed children,
this is the battle
you have to look forward to.
Brace yourself,
if you know how.
It might hurt less then.

For once we are grown
we are all too aware
of past tortures and traumas,
they leave physical and emotional scars
we wear like badges,
while knowing
these scars
scar us.

Hide the marks from your face,
your stomach from when
you were hospitalized
against your will for months.
Hide the bruises around your neck
as you leave the country
to escape the man
who once claimed he loved you.
Force yourself to forget
the disappointing diatribes
your disappointment of a father
gave you, while you struggle
to be stronger than him,
despite him.

If you internalize some scars,
turn them around,
then watch your helplessness
transform to rage,
then to solace and insight
to help others recover
from their own physical
and sexual traumas.

They say that time heals all wounds,
and you wish for the scars to vanish;
your brutish, broodish demeanor
is a blemish
                    you wish would perish —

but wait a minute,
search for that scar
on the cleft of your chin
from when you scratched
when you had the Chickenpox.
You would swear
that scar was there,

where did it go.

Then you turn
to the one you love.
They tell you
they’ve never seen the scars.

That you’ve always been
a bright white beam of light,
almost too blinding
for anyone to fully take in,
which is why
you can never
be fully understood...
And this is all they think
when they see you,
and all they can say
I love you.

And maybe that
is the treatment
for the traumas...

and the scars
to hard
to handle.

Any wound is real,
for scars too hard to handle.
And any wound is real,
as long as you give it the power
to take over your soul
and fester into a fiendish demon.

So just remember
that despite those vanishing scars
that are now
too taxing to tally,
despite those battle scars...

you are a blinding light
that no one,
will ever


Italicized portion of this poem are quotes
    from the William Stafford poem “Scars”.
* line toward he end of the Ai poem
    “The Good Shepherd: Atlanta, 1981.”

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