I never paid much attention to tattoos until my children and their friends, and then my own friends, started getting them. For me, it’s been a natural progression from disinterest + a tinge of sadness (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to mild interest + resignation (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to deep interest (what’s the story behind that tattoo? + admiration (it’s an art form, with the body as medium) = these days, tattoos are among the first things I notice when out wandering the streets and beach. This poem, by one of my favorite poets, makes me think about them in a different way, in an everything-we-can’t-see-but-know-is-there kind of way. All the unknown stories walking around out there.
First Poem for You
– Kim Addonizio
I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.
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