Tattoo Lover

We squabbled,
loud as fire crackers,
about you getting a tattoo.
A rose, a snake, a lightning bolt?
How big, how small, where should it go?

Everyone had one, even your aunt,
and then your voice dropped
to that smoky register,
as if to announce Roman ruins about to crumble:
my claim to your flesh.

Above the weather of your blood
needles hatched meticulous blossoms.
A little whorl of roses, delicate as a child’s whisper,
hemmed the blank of your nape.
Pin and ink, apodictic.

A few days later, your hair gathered in my tender fist,
I stood behind you
prepared to kiss your willing wound.
The petals’ sharp ink sheared my lips,
the taste of thorns, sugared sweet,
climbed my tongue’s splintered stake.

A mural between us,
you showed me an art no one can possess.

Imagination and Place, Winter, 2010

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