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.