I saw you had written my name in the back of your book and fell to thinking stories about it. Was this the tale of how, after days and nights and months and years, you found your way to your only true love? Was it a permanent reminder of how the universe had fore-written our lives, how the or the way had found you?Was it just one of many examples of how you left my name everywhere, signing your path through the world?
With a needle and a pen I scratched your name beneath my skin and wore long sleeves to catch the blood.
Yesterday I saw your book left open at my name page but my name had been written in pencil and now only its shadow remained.
My arm itched and my eyes prickled. The afternoon and evening and long night passed somehow and now I write new stories.
Martha sat up in bed. Other days the heat radiating from his skin had drawn her towards it, and thus him, but now it repulsed her. “I can’t sleep”, she repeated.
He did not wake up. He did not wake for the warm damp air, for the mosquitoes or the moths, so he would not wake for her whispers.
She knelt and drew a fingernail down from his shoulder blade, tracking but not touching his spine. Below his skin a nail-thin green line appeared. On the stem buds flowered, extravagant leaves unfurled. Martha smiled. Another jungle line crept down the other bank of his spine. His smooth skin shone.
“My body is a temple, Martha” he had said in the beginning and she had longed to worship there. Now her eyes glittered like the fireflies they had seen. In the morning he would be a masterpiece.
To the cliff divers, scars on ankles and legs are badges of honour. The razor-sharp rocks take their toll, a thread of blood through clear water sniffed up by the eels and sea spirits.
Yesterday Marco wavered in his concentration. When he pulls himself back up to the ledge, a vein or a muscle in his neck twitches. Blood flows from his shoulder. Leon 2012. Only part of his oldest tattoo can be seen but his brother is never forgotten. His memory is in Marco’s hot, scarred heart, his name inked into his skin.
tattooed divers rock his float
There it is again
That flame of pain inside my lower lip
Every time I sip cold water
Or think of you
It is never gone
The love tattoo lingers on my tongue
where my filed tooth has caught the skin
Every time I think of you
Sam tattooed the shape of her kiss on his bicep. Now, through the red-ragged rage and mist of loss, he could look down, and flex, and smile.
My grandad would bunk off school and go swimming. When he went home, his mother would taste the salt in his hair and box his ears. He would bend over me as we looked toward the mainland and taste my hair. “You’ve been swimming!” And I would try to dodge the gentle cuffs.
I would try to hold one of his hands in both of mine and study the tattoo on his forearm and the scar he said was caused by a bullet. Then on the way home he would tell me one of the stories I must have known were impossible but believed with all my heart. And still do.
The boy in the supermarket asked if my tattoos kept my arms warm.
I’ll get one when I get home.
His mother blushed and pulled him away.
The tattoo on my chest doesn’t look like you. I should have used a photo instead of a memory. And not done it in the mirror.
I thought her tattoo was very realistic. But as people saw the tanned Jesus on her shoulder crying tears of blood, they began to cross themselves. Some knelt. Some hissed as she reached her towel and her friend wiped away the signs that she had scratched herself on the lava rocks as she climbed out of the water. His eyes were blue.