Outside In

Outside In
by A C Clarke

I have never felt comfortable in my own skin/my skin has never sat comfortably on me/says things I don’t recognise in the sharp curves incised at the corners of my lips the lines frowning between my sparse eyebrows/hangs on me like a hand-me-down dress from someone who wore it with confidence someone who said that dress is me/I have never felt comfortable in my own voice that speaks like a silver-spoon stranger/I’m a chameleon who never quite matches her background a karaoke act permanently out of sync/the me of me is in there somewhere all sexes and none/thinks through the body but not as a body/hears its true voice beyond class or gender that box of words whose lid’s jammed tight/the me of me is happy with itself
         like someone in a room without a mirror
                      who  lets their thoughts wander
                                             the multiverse
ponders what the moon dreams of
                                                                      how stars
                       name themselves


Source note: the first line is from ‘I Never Felt Comfortable in My Own Skin So I Made a New One’ by Xan Phillips.

A C Clarke has published five collections and six pamphlets, two of the latter in collaboration with Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton. She was a winner in the Cinnamon Press 2017 pamphlet competition with War Baby and has twice won the Second Light Long Poem competition. She was commended in the UK National Poetry Competition (2005) and longlisted (2014). Her sixth collection, Alive Among Dead Stars, is due to be published by Broken Sleep Books in 2024.

This poem is intentionally formatted. If it does not render correctly in your browser, you can view an image of it here.

Published by