Of spinning over concrete, white lightning scar
from grey stones cutting into chin
Of barbed post-love
scratched onto skin.
Of canoe dock bruises, a summer tapestry
woven from knee to thigh
Our bodies tell our stories and yet others scribe them onto us, tell us our body’s worth, insert chink after chink so we build armor from their (s)words. I have let others tell the story of my body, write on their suppositions and assumptions, tell me my own strength.
In eighth grade I started letting others write themselves onto me starting with my arms (ugly, fat, cow) so I grew to hate them, I hid them for 15 years.
Today I started their re-write. The story of arms that can carry a child up at least a million steps, that held onto the sides of a hospital bed during labor, that wrap themselves around only the people I hold dear, that turn pages and write words and do work. They are not perfect arms, but they belong to me.
Branches of the tree my son is named for, the words of the lullaby I sing him each night, the ballad of my little family. I have begun to tell my own story there. And with each scratch of needle onto skin I have wiped away the stories others have written that have lapped at my conscious knowing until they enveloped me. Tattooing is both a doing and an undoing, it is creating and uncreating, it is changing the landscape of how we are seen and how we see ourselves. It is one way to write ourselves onto the world.
Special thanks to Katie at Gypsy Tattoo Parlor whose artistry and tattooing skills of turning my mess of ideas into this new stunning story are unreal. I look forward to finishing this story with their care.
The shiny bits and bubbling are from this liquid bandage that helps your tattoo heal trapped in your own immune system. It is seriously cool.