if i peel back the layers, my skin is a series of lines burnt into the living that happens but even scar tissue heals, it just does, the lines live under the skin marked in the stories that are no longer told, marked in the memories that surface less and less and a new and markedly different woman emerges, one that you don't recognize in the mirror, one that smiles differently, the bones underneath shifted and turned around, unfathomable.
if i peel back the layers, the lines of the tree trunk reveal the lives lived, the transitions, the years sloughed off and embedded deeply, printed on black and white paper reminiscent of an era that cannot be revisited because the world has changed and so have you even if you are only now catching up and re-learning who exactly you have become, unfit for public consumption.
if i peel back the layers, i see all the selves holding her close and nodding and smiling and awed at it all, awed at what they have become and who they are becoming and the validation it gives them for the choices they made. and they rub their scars and flatten them into smoothness.
and i look in the mirror and marvel at them all even as i tentatively smile hello and begin the conversation with the woman in the mirror.