The Sunburning
by John C. Mannone

I studied the sunspot-mole on her bronzed face
for years tempered with copper-toned sun. Then,
her flesh, supple, malleable, stretched on a bed

of sand filling the curve of spine, packing under
knees and neck—her gold-tinted body lifted up
as an offering to the sun god; sacrificed herself

and our children, too, to this Molech. Each year
we’d mecca to the beach, molt skin to him
over & over on this altar. We closed our eyes

to the retina-searing heat, and let the sun
send hot kisses caressing every exposed
offering of flesh. Let the cool offshore breezes

soothe the hotness, whisper lies. We’d fall asleep
to the lullaby of a swishing surf, to the feel
of white sand between our fingers. But I woke up

under a xenon glare, clenching white linen sheets
drenched in cold sweat. A hospital room fan blowing
whispers, telling me that her black, irregular sunspot

had flared, and was gone. She was gone. I too
on fire, another sacrifice.