Tag Archives: tattoo

Before you are dismantled

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“Before you are dismantled, fixed and broke again you are not yet a lover. Remember on the right night and under the right light any idea can seem like a good one and love…love is mostly ill advised but always brave.” Yrsa Daley-Ward

“And here I thought you were jaded.” He’s teasing, gently. The skin’s been healed a while now, but it’s been cold enough to keep legs covered most days. Not everyone has seen.

“The worst. I eat hearts for breakfast.”

“Seriously. I’ve never heard you say anything about love that didn’t sound like you hate it.”

I’m not sure what to say to that. I do hate it. It’s monstrous. It changes you. One day you’re at sea all filled with the thrill of wind and open water, daring every storm to just try; it’s never seen anything so fierce as you, so strong. And then out of nowhere you’re cast out like a stowaway, like vermin, like nothing. You’re left alone God knows where with no keel and no sails and no anchor. People are talking but what language you don’t know. They broke your compass and your heart and Broca’s area, too. You wonder if you’ll ever learn to fit the shape of yourself again (You will, it’s just a new shape and it has something of a limp).  If you’re even human, anymore. If you’re not just walking jetsam with water in your ears. They didn’t even keep your bones for scrimshaw, after all that. Not even your bones.

I hate it so much. Because I can’t quite stop forgiving. Because I can’t quite say it wasn’t worth it. Because life does, in fact, go on.

I’m using tattoos to reclaim parts of myself, a bit at a time. It was easy to feel weak for having been in love. To treat myself with disdain for it. Ill-advised is putting it mildly, when you’ve carried the wreck of a memory long enough. It is easy to try to shame it away until it is not part of who I am. But it is also brave. And I still can’t quite say it wasn’t worth it, either time.

The text is an excerpt from Artichokes by Yrsa Daley-Ward. Her book, bone, is most definitely worth picking up.


My other tattoos are here:

Don’t touch me, a how-to guide for handling my panic attacks from Beckett

and

i like my body when it is with your, a reminder that sometimes the body is so quite new a thing.

Don’t Touch Me

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“It’s from Beckett.” These lines are part of me, a paradox of fear and hope, self-loathing and pride. Ne me touche pas. Ne me demande rien. Ne me dis rien. Reste avec moi. It’s a favorite moment from a play I’ve read too many times. It’s a surprisingly perfect and concise instruction manual for handling my panic attacks.

They are written indelibly across my skin. I’ve run my fingers across these lines countless times. I like to see a lover do the same, in intimate moments.

“What’s it mean?”

But there is that.

For a moment I’m frozen in place, skin clinging to leather, reticent to reveal what I’ve already put on display. I’m thinking of loneliness, which is always safe and always calm. I’m thinking of betrayal and loss. I’m thinking of a mouth so hot and fierce and dangerous that I never want to stop kissing it. Something shifts. I’m on my knees, too close. My fingers are twitching to trace the line of his jaw or choke him or slip into his mouth.

Ne me touche pas.

He looks so calm. How is he so calm? I push my hair out of my face, lean in to whisper. “Don’t touch me.” He doesn’t move. I close my eyes and breathe. I’m swooning into the heat he generates, listening for his breath over the rushing sound in my head. He doesn’t move. This isn’t close enough. I swing one leg over to straddle him, brace my hands on either side of his head. We aren’t touching. I know we aren’t touching because if we touched I wouldn’t be able to stop. There’s an impossible humidity condensing on my skin, unbearable, unbreathable, but nothing next to the storm. My lips pass over his. I inhale his breath.

Ne me demande rien.

The center cannot hold. I bring my lips to his ear again. I’m breathing too fast, trying to keep control. (of whom?) “Don’t question me.”

His breath catches. The movement brings his earlobe to brush against my mouth. It’s too much. God help me but it’s too much. I sink my teeth in, just below his jaw. He growls. I growl back. I bite his neck, his shoulders, his clavicle. Some light nips, some near to mauling. He lifts his hands from the couch. I don’t wait to see what he does. I grab his wrists and hold them down. I bite his shoulder hard enough to make him whimper, even through his shirt. I feel him straining against my hands. He’s strong, much stronger than I am. He’s not trying to get loose, but not about to surrender either. He starts to say something. I put a hand over his mouth before he can.

Ne me dis rien.

“Don’t speak to me.” I’m sitting on his lap, my face inches from his. He meets my eyes when he nods, and I take my hand away from his mouth. He’s breathing hard, almost panting. So am I.

This kiss is a hurricane. I can’t get enough. I am howling wind and driving rain. I am shoving him back, seeking a way in. This kiss should crack him open. This kiss should have him throwing up panicked defenses. It doesn’t. He is brave, or careless. He has come out to meet me and I’ve made him too slippery to catch. I am surging around him and he’s moving through. He should be pinned beneath my onslaught but I can’t hold him down. This kiss is desperate. Please. Please don’t be so sweet, don’t be so gentle. If he calms me, I may drift apart and be forgotten. Oh, but I love this too. This kiss I can sink into. It will drag me down. It will drown me. I don’t care. His mouth on mine is all that matters, and I can’t remember why I wanted it so vicious, so violent before.

Reste avec moi.

“Stay with me.”

I know he won’t. I don’t meet his eyes. This is pressuring. This is cruel. I want to take it back, because I have pride, because I don’t (no, not ever, can’t) speak hope aloud. I can push anyone away, that’s easy, but inviting someone in?

Est-ce que je t’ai jamais quitté?

Have I ever left you?

Tu m’as laissé partir.

You let me go.

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Ink

I had written something long and rambling interpreting this poem, talking about self-image and projection and the like. It’s gone now. I’m just going to get to the point.

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e e cummings’ poems are, in a strange way, good for me. They wrench my mind out of the overly analytical space it usually occupies. This one’s a particular favorite, especially the first line, especially the fact that the first line isn’t quite complete.

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So, new ink. I’m quite pleased with it.