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Farmer’s Tan
By CL Bledsoe

My father’s arms lie worse than his eyes;
the red of his perma-burned forearms stretches only
to the bottom of his shirt sleeves, from there
oaken muscles hardened by decades of rice farming,
covered by loose skin bleached the color of sun-faded paper
take up the fight. If you ignore that sagging face,
chin slumped beneath the weight of lies told
and heard, skip over the neck, a motley cliche,
and go straight to the chest, you’ll see that same fragile skin
falling down to his black toenails, ruined by rice field water.

He offers me a stiff hug and I feel the halting muscles grip
and relax, stone slips into putty
unreliable as time. Life will throw it’s booted foot
before his feet but few times, now.
This man, this stone pillar who could break me
as easily as glass in a child’s hands,
has been worn down by water over the years.

Stickman End of Poem

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