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Nicole Kuhn

People always say that scars tell your story.
I don’t think my scars tell my story. In fact,
I have spent my whole life trying to convince
people that my story is about more
than my scars. But the marks
on my face are louder than the words
I can speak. My bumps and divots
are the demanding subtitles, forever
distracting you from a bigger picture.
The truth about severe acne is that some nights
you go to bed and wake up bleeding, but it’s not
always from the pores in your skin. Sometimes
it’s the pores in your confidence that won’t stop
leaking when you go to the mirror and startle
at the image of your own face. Sometimes the lump
on your cheek deviously becomes the lump in your throat
when putting on makeup over open wounds every morning
just burns a little too much today. I always found it funny
that a euphemism for “acne” is “irritated skin” because my skin
is definitely pissed off, but that phrase says
nothing for my heart.
You see, a sore that breaks and drains
at the tug of your smile or the shift
of your bones stings far more in the depths
of you than it ever does at the surface.
When people ask why I don’t really date, I once told
someone that I don’t know any man brave enough to handle
a chain of active volcanoes. They didn’t get it.
They thought I was talking about the fire
in my personality, not cursing the red mounds
sprinkled across my shoulder blades, too temperamental
for even the touch of my t-shirt.
I assure you, though, at the roots of my angry
complexion is a seed of defiance. When I say I have to put my face
on before we can go out anywhere, it’s not because I want
to hide who I really am. It’s because most people
are too ignorant to remember that sometimes
infection is only skin-deep. It’s because I get
ticked off when people won’t look
me in the eye because they assume that I have a reason
to always be looking down. We should not
be ashamed of this artwork. It just has a little more
depth, a few more dimensions. It just has a little more
color, a little more texture than yours.