So Tattooed

How did you get so tattooed
so painlessly I hadn’t noticed?
The names of late friends, Chinese
and Greek phrases, diagrams,
geometric signs, alchemical
and astrological symbols,
and a bull’s-eye in daring colors
covering most of your back.

We’ve been married fifty years
and now you’ve erupted in text
without a murmur of excuse.
The village swoons around us.
A delicate snowfall flutters
like the vaguest of flirtations.
Let’s discuss this over coffee.
Perhaps you could explain yourself
and your freshly inscribed flesh.

But why are you waving your arms
and legs with crustacean gestures?
As I stare with speechless awe
the tattoos fade from your arms,
the long-dead patients resume
their anonymity, the Greek
and Chinese erase themselves,
the diagrams unravel, the symbols
lift and peel and drift far away.

How can you shed that skin
without leaving a bloody rind?
Yet now you look fresh enough
to re-enter puberty. Maybe
the target lingers on your back;
but otherwise I’d never know
you’d sported all that manuscript
for at least a few dizzy hours
of exclamatory self-regard.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (2019). Thanks for your attention.

Gunjan Bhardwaj is a 22 year old computer engineering from india who enjoys painting and sketching.