Sara tells us the story of how she came by this work:
"Jimbo, my tattoo artist, had just gotten his license. He was a middle-aged biker who lived with his middle-aged, ex-stripper girlfriend, Peaches, in Akron, Ohio. Jimbo’s studio was set up in the corner of his basement; just a chair and a table, some ink and a gun. I hesitated for just a minute before I handed Jimbo my design (the result of a Google Image search—how terribly unique), thinking I’d surely been warned against basement tattoo parlors. But the room was clean and well lit, and everything on the table was wrapped in plastic. How bad could it be? Two hours and sixty dollars later, I had my scorpion (or is it a lobster?), bright red with a thick black outline, on my shoulder. I’d settled on the design after five years of indecision by thinking: I’ll always be a Scorpio. And ten years later, it’s true—I’m still a Scorpio."Sara sent us this poem to accompany the post:
This is a place where bones settle
soft as fog against the earth. Here,
touch is dull knives, broken tongue
of waxy flame. Fissures
of morning sun cross this mattress
where you and I have met before,
pallet of want and whispered
blessing, your eyelash on my cheek.
Tomorrow, our children will melt
before we know they’re born,
the car will break down on a ramp
outside the city and we will walk
to the bar without calling for a tow.
On the juke box, a song
we’re too young to remember
but know anyhow, like we know
our mothers as children, or think
we do. Mine liked maple candy
but not cream, yours tight-roped
the clothesline in red Mary Janes.
We will ignore errands, money
owed, as our blood thins over a pool
table with a slow left tilt. I will
be drunk enough to win the first game
but not the second. You will not gloat
when I scratch the eight-ball. At shift-
change, there will be nine dollars
between us, enough for a cab home,
cold cereal before sleep. Box fan
in the window. Deadbolts snapped
into place, clothes like breadcrumbs
from kitchen to bed frame. I will
chew ice cubes to stay cool, tiny
glass castles. Air heavy in the gulf
of our bodies, the steady pulse
of pressure rising; rain before morning,
before sleep. Your lips a spider, a penny.
I’ll want something to hold, sugar or sand,
a cigarette lit and passed between us.
We won’t speak but ask questions
with each exhale. Who says our sweat
on this sheet can’t become glass?
~ ~ ~
Sara Tracey is the author of Some Kind of Shelter (Misty Publications, 2013) and Flood Year (dancing girl press, 2009). Her work has recently appeared in Vinyl Poetry, The Collagist, Harpur Palate, Passages North, and elsewhere. Originally from Ohio, she has lived in Chicago since 2008. She blogs at saratracey.wordpress.com.
Thanks to Sara for her contribution to this year's Tattooed Poets Project on Tattoosday!
This entry is ©2014 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.