by Abbie Doll
Agnes is a seamstress. She sews the skin of every unborn child, mapping out their future with freckles, moles, and wrinkles, stitching trillions of cells one by one until arriving at an end result as unique as the individual. Palms are her favorite; each one begins as an empty fleshy canvas, a rectangular chunk ready to accept her big sweeping brushstrokes; she floods the open space with an endless maze of tiny intersecting streams and tributaries. The joint markings beneath our knuckles may make each finger appear to be attached by a mere stitch or two, but Agnes spends days upon days developing her designs to the brink of painstaking perfection.
Agnes creates it all. She can tell you how well each of her creations will (or won’t) moisturize and can even recite their future injuries on a cellular level. Drawing the significance behind every line is her domain. By sculpting skin, she weaves her stories, selecting spots for every scrape and bruise of childhood. Agnes’ arthritic hands have been at this for thousands of years but have never once repeated themselves. She is proud of her work as a sorceress of skin, designing lives. Our body’s largest organ is her world. Agnes maps out a lifetime of blackheads and ingrown hairs; she knows, all too well, where the body’s blemishes hide.
First and foremost, skin protects; it’s the official separator between our interior and every external threat. It is, at heart, the body’s storyteller. It secretes stories, oozes oil and sweat. Agnes sutures the cells with incredible finesse, transforming them into an intricate honeycomb structure like a bed of doughy oyster crackers baking in the oven. She knows and feels it all—the pang from next week’s sunburn, that sharp jolt when the knife slips, the dull throb from that blister on your heel, everything. She knows when a cancerous mole first surfaces and the second a cut becomes infected. Next time you pass a mirror or pause to study the secret specificity of your exterior, be sure to stop and express your thanks to the saint of skin.
ABBIE DOLL is an eclectic mess of a person who loves exploring the beautiful intricacies of the written word. She resides in Columbus, OH and received her MFA from Lindenwood University; her work has been featured in Cathexis Northwest Press, The Rush, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L), among others. Follow her @AbbieDollWrites.