I’ve committed to writing a poem a day for the month of April as part of National Poetry Writing Month. This is day 4. (I added days 2 and 3 to my previous post)
Today I stretched the definition a bit, and did a prose poem. Well, maybe it’s a micro story. Inspired by a novel I’ve just read by Fiona McGregor, titled “Indelible Ink”
She loved her tattoos. They were a wonder to her. The way the ink was on her skin, was in her skin, was under her skin. The ink was part of her.
She loved the way other people appreciated her tattoos, though they were in the minority of course. They were usually people who had tattoos themselves. Mostly younger than her. They admired the artistry. Some actually recognised the tattoo artist. Some had even been tattooed by the same woman. This was not run of the mill, Kings Cross, late night, post binge, blind drunk “gimme a tatt now” crap. This was thoughtful, considered. This was virtuoso work. The peak of human creativity, in her view. True art.
She hated the way many people averted their eyes in embarrassment from her tattoos. Especially her family. When did young people suddenly become so bloody conservative? Who wrote the rule that said a fifty something, respectable, middle class woman shouldn’t get tatts? Nobody asked her. What gave them the right to judge? Christ, look at them with their smart phones, their fashionable clothes, their four wheel drives, their designer jewellery. All of it so ephemeral. A tattoo was for life, not a disposable item. Not a one-night stand. No morning after pill for a tattoo. No bringing it back next day for a full refund.
Her tattoo artist was her trusted adviser. Her tattoo artist had more intimate knowledge of her body than a lover. Her tattoo artist was just that: an artist. A guide, a friend, a confidante. Her tattoo artist inflicted the most intense, exquisite pain, almost beyond endurance. And for enduring that pain, she was rewarded with a body of work, a work of art, art on her body, in her body, under her skin.
Then the ironic blow came. Cancer. She knew the end was near. The cancer was eating her from the inside. But she would die before it ate its way to the surface, to the skin, to the ink, to the art that did its best to make her ravaged body beautiful. When her body decayed, her skin would blister and rupture. She would become a dried husk. Skin, cartilage and bones. And traces of ink.
It was nearly time. She didn’t believe in God, but she believed in mystery. She took the last of the morphine, slipped into a drug induced sleep. Dreamed of her cadaver, of her beautiful tattoos persisting as the rest of her corpse broke down. Of the ink seeping from her body.
In a hundred years, her remains might be exhumed. A shroud discovered, etched indelibly with a beautiful image. Becoming a source of wonder once again.