Okay, I looked but I didn’t stare

On a road trip the other day

we got talking about birth defects you don’t see

any more

like hunchbacks, birth marks, cleft palates

though Simon

whose father was Lord Mayor of Mars had one

and spoke with a lisp.

Then at this café in the mountains

we were served

by a barista

with a raspberry stain on his left cheek

the shape of Africa.

Is that a birth mark, I asked him. We were just talking about them.

Yes, it is, he smiled.

It was just another feature on his face, like his nose.

or a mole

It was nothing special.

Yet it had a strange sort of beauty.

He poured me the greatest cup of coffee.

I was glad that I had asked him, that I didn’t wuss out.

It’s okay to be curious.

30 thoughts on “Okay, I looked but I didn’t stare

  1. Very nice story. We (having finished The Hobbit) are reading a very good book called “Wonder” by RJ Palacio. It’s about a boy born with a collision of genetic disturbances to his face. He is 10 and the story is told from his point of view as well as his friends and siblings. It’s very well written. I mean, it’s junior fiction. But it’s compelling and so in tune with the theme of your poem.


  2. very nice, finally coming to the point of we are who we are, every part of us. i read wonder and loved it, and i always read a young child’s version to my class each year, and we have a chance to talk about it and hear their thoughts


  3. I have a couple of birthmarks on my left hand. They are really tiny and look like cigarette burns. People have been concerned and asked me how I got them, expecting the worst, since I don’t smoke. There were questions like ‘Does your husband treat you right?’ Well, he doesn’t smoke too. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly, John! Also, I had previously been in an abusive marriage before I walked out. So, my family and friends are super-sensitive about me. 🤣 The crazy part is that even my mum didn’t remember me having these birthmarks. So, even she panicked on seeing them. I’ve been teasing her about that ever since. 🤣🤣🤣


      • a close relation of mine has just walked out of an abusive marriage so I have a fair idea how traumatic it can be; glad you got out safely :)you don’t see many posts about birthmarks so I’m pleased this one sparked a discussion 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Adults rarely ask, but they will glance and turn away when caught. Children however with their unabashed curiosity will ask, what’s that? So much more honest. It’s a wonderful point you made, John.

    Liked by 1 person

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