ODE TO ECZEMA

at 6 my skin bursts into pale hills after each shower
scarlet planets garland my throat by 14
rashes bloom behind elbows & ears my tenderest
bends grin redly my aunt says no one
will marry you scaly- faced & stubborn

when I return to Hong Kong at 22 your tendency to tear
my skin new mouths soothes beneath the warm-wet
blanket of home for a month humidity licks my joints
whole until Toronto you shimmy to the surface
the doctor says avoid triggers but the trigger is living

here at all my life my dislocation has migrated
between my eyes an itchy patch on my left shoulder
blade I cannot reach drizzle of pink stars astride
my neck symptom of my upbringing like me
you are impossible to love so you’ve been told
but bless the wound that does not

close the door that lets infection in to heal on its own
time immune system rehearsing its answer to
affliction I recognize my people by the way we wear
our seams under our sleeves like velvet cheeks
flake to air newborn stars dusting in reverse
every cannibal inhale we breathe ourselves
in an act of inheritance

Jody Chan is a writer and organizer based in Toronto. They are the poetry editor for Hematopoeisis and the author of haunt (Damaged Goods Press, 2018) and sick, winner of the 2018 St. Lawrence Book Award. Their work has been published in Third Coast, BOAAT, Yes Poetry, Nat. Brut, The Shade Journal, and elsewhere. They have received fellowships from VONA and Tin House. They can be found online at https://www.jodychan.com/ and offline in bookstores or dog parks.