I. When we moved in, my parents thought the tree in our backyard was dead or dying; its peeling bark evoked an ear of corn not quite shucked, a natural edge run ragged. We would soon learn that the shagbark hickory is not born with shag in its bark; but grows into it. It is the story of age as paring knife, bark as shed skin. II. I let my first whitehead ripen until my mother snipped pus fruit off the vine with flesh between pinched fingers, a pop. This is how rite became passage of time, and how I could not help but pick and poke and prod and pop each bump, raze what was raised into submission, into scar. Keep squeezing after all the pus is out, just to be sure, or just so that a steady drip of blood may follow. Two birds, smooth your face and yourself, one faucet running red. III. There is a beetle in my sink. It scuttles out of the drain so rapidly I can imagine the ratatattat of legs on porcelain. The urgency of an ugly thing. We know each other, beetle and I, beetle who could crawl into an oversized pore and shimmy under my skin, hatch eggs in my cheek and excrete itself in pus. An ugliness that can spiral back down the drain. IV. When we moved in, my parents thought the tree in our backyard was dead or dying, and so peeling bark was tempting for idle hands to pry off. To leave a scar behind: a reddish-gray gash, a nakedness. When Caliban looked in the glass did he too see Ham? Are there pimples on the cheeks of forests? The beetle living under my skin laughs at me. No, it says. And still they grow.