47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 92

fingering the free literature, then examining the custom Idaho license plates, wildlife-themed, available for purchase. I could opt for bluebird, elk, or trout. The plates were $35 each, and proceeds went to nature conservancy programs on the Palouse. I looked, and I considered. I liked the elk, but felt no affinity for it. For a moment, I reconsidered the $200 it would take to keep my white plates, blue numbers, cheesy red-loop script—California. Something in my throat filled up. So what I mean to say is this: the card was something of a reach. Then again, the tattoo artist, Thad, is a friend of B’s, the same one who did his rolling Palouse hill tattoo, and this acquaintanceship gives me some small comfort. Like an insurance policy, security against unsteady hands or careless harm. This is what I’m thinking as I sit here now, perched, too nervous to lean back into the plush. All my senses are on fire. I notice that it’s warm inside. I notice that it smells good: not chemical or sterile, but sweet and slightly woody—palo santo, maybe, mixed with something richer and more feminine. The light, too, is warm and soft. Something groovy on the stereo. Since I’m killing time, I ask: Surf’s Up, The Beach Boys, 1971. The tattoo parlor is familiar in a distant sort of way. I’ve been here twice—first for a poetry reading, then for my initial consultation with Thad. But today is different. Today, from noon to two [or whenever we are finished—that’s the length of my appointment], I’m here and only here. I breathe it in: the orange, cream, and velvet brown; the black ceramic cat, the woody sweetness. Today I want it all inside of me, underneath the skin.

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PHOEBE


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