Permanent ink was something I’d look for
in black, fine-tipped felt at the stationer.
I loved the tactile engagement
between pen and textured paper.
It may have been the same desire
that led to my skin being worked into art.
It was the drawn-out end of love
and you were gone. I wanted the pain
to be indelible. For reasons I’ve forgotten
I chose an owl, in flight across my back.
As he worked, the needle man cursed.
The whisky I’d been reviewing
the night before had thinned my blood.
It was everywhere. He outlined his concern
for the condition of my skin.
He mentioned sclerosis, the margins
for error in a shut-down vein.
On a shelf, his trophies for best ink
at the show. On his forearm, the word
Joker cordoned off by a sleeve.
I did not need to ask about his life outside
the studio. He sighed and made
a lasting, deep impression.
He swore and coloured me in. I bled.