We're launching the 2nd annual BillyBlog-Tattoosday National Poetry Month project with the following poem by Theresa Edwards:
"Holly Rose" was first published here at Seven CirclePress, and is reprinted with Ms. Edwards blessing.
My eyes listen to the tattoo artist
a dance of curls beneath a winter hat
he wears inside his tattoo parlor.
The Joker tattoo on his inner right arm,
ear lobes half moons of studs.
All of a sudden, my ears
the snap of sterile vanilla gloves,
buzzing resonance of metal in air
as he tests his machine then quietly
applies the pattern for my third tattoo.
Cigarette smoke lightly shades
the air, maneuvers down my throat.
I'm not ready for the pain that
begins the outline on my stomach,
left of my belly button.
A sharp, blackened ripping of my body
made by covered hands that guide
the tool's cut, then wipe my blood into the past.
The stale room presses deep, sucking color from my face
as sound carves symbols of my parents.
I have nothing to hold onto,
his lean legs straddle the chair's
side; I imagine them against me
as I try to clutch leather before my husband's
thick, strong body takes its place in my mind.
Needles press just below my ribs,
form a new genus on skin:
holly vine entwines thorn-stem of rose.
Vine and stem fuse in remembrance:
holly for December (my father's birthday month),
rose for June (my mother's).
Their inked tribute lost momentarily
in my obsession: younger man, artist's
art on me.
I go back for color;
go back for him,
This time lidocaine two hours before
helps numb the needle's entry.
His winter hat with “FUCK YOU”
on the back. Clean, blue gloves
pour ink in tiny, sterile plastic.
I follow his blue eyes, his grey
chin hairs I stroke in my mind.
Came in three hours ago,
turned the heat on for you, he says.
I'm hot, flushed below my inked flower,
near my husband's touch
the night before.
I laugh, green-needle drone cutting,
shading, skin beneath skin
until the lidocaine wears off.
He asks if it hurts.
Excruciating, I think.
This is it for me. I say.
Last time in this place.
He rattles my dark fantasy,
loudly snaps the latex off his hands,
says, Maybe I'll see ya
not for a tattoo.
My husband's trust along my thighs,
his goodness in every
colored cut below my heart.
Holly Rose: my parents love,
my own reminder of loyalty I'll wear
with chance of only fading.
but leave the noise behind.
Theresa Senato Edwards’ poetry is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review's second print anthology and in Blue Earth Review's spring 2010 print issue. She has a poem forthcoming online in Pirene's Fountain, and other poems can be found online at Autumn Sky Poetry, Stirring, Press 1, Seven CirclePress, decomP, AdmitTwo, Chronogram, and elsewhere. She tutors writing at Marist College and is founder/editor/publisher/blogger of Holly Rose Review.
Check out Theresa's Holly Rose tattoo over at Tattoosday, here.