In July, I wrote about my intention to get a tattoo, and on August 22, I found myself in a tattoo parlor with my 18-year-old son, watching a Star Trek episode on my laptop in order to endure the hour of pain as I did something so utterly and bizarrely out of character. As I’ve pondered for two weeks about what I wanted to write about the experience on my blog, I found that I would either need to write a chapter-length account, or just share a poem. I’ve chosen the latter, my ode to my new tattoo.
They say you become more of who you are as you age
(neural pathways so deeply etched it would take a deluge to shift them),
and boy is that true
as I try not to react to every trigger
even faster than the last.
So how can I explain a big tattoo on my back?
Me, of all people,
who swore I’d never,
get a tattoo.
Me with a coward’s tolerance to pain
(who can moan and complain about a paper cut and has to hum audibly when getting a shot)
under the gun for a godawful hour
to stain my skin
with a permanent mark
of transformation (there’s the rub)
A luna moth has alit on my spine,
a spine that caused me no end of grief for thirty years,
and then mysteriously stopped hurting;
A luna moth,
caterpillar dissolving into genetic goo
to emerge completely changed,
a reminder that this DNA does not mean
we’re stuck forever in our ever deepening ruts;
A luna moth who lives for one week,
(only to mate and reproduce, without even a digestive tract);
just joy and beauty for a brief, gorgeous present.
A brief, gorgeous present
permanently etched on my back.
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