In 2019,

I lost part of my left ear

a small part, a barely-noticeable part, but a part nonetheless, 

to something that I can’t remember the current name of but used to be called junior melanoma, 

noncancerous but harmful enough to warrant immediate removal, leaving an open wound patched back up with a skin graft, healing to a flat surface where the ridges and folds usually are, 

probably the result of two summers in college spent working in the unrelenting sun of the North Carolina beach, 

outside every day with my friends, 

starting off in June reapplying sunscreen every two hours but putting on less and less as our skin got darker until we didn’t bother at all, laughing, telling ourselves “oh, we’re too tan to get burned”, 

thinking sunburn was the worst it can get, 

knowing people aren’t invincible but not really believing it about ourselves. 

After that skin graft I couldn’t lift more than five pounds and I couldn’t get my head wet for two weeks 

while the nerves reconnected and the stitches were in

which was a problem since I was moving and I like clean hair 

but my friends came through, carrying boxes out of the house and in to and out of cars, 

one kneeling beside me in her bathtub, us both in swimsuits, gently pouring shampoo over my hair, careful of where the water went, 

humbling me

and leaving me thanking God night after night for the people I have. 

Now I wear hats and carry sunscreen in the car, putting on shirts when I would have stayed in my bikini, 

not loving the sun any less,

but constantly carrying proof of its small victory over me.

In 2019 I learned that I am not invincible,.

but also I learned invincible and undefeatable are two different things

I can be hurt, that’s true, but I have people that take care of me and a God that loves me good and so I

cannot be defeated.

Hat + sleeves