47.2 - Spring 2018

Page 93

What are the chances of it going wrong? I’d asked, back in September. In reply, Thad had stretched both his thick forearms out towards me, palms up, displaying half a dozen different images—a dinosaur, a sparrow, a weeping Madonna—all inked in hues of charcoal gray or deep black-green, pronounced against the bourbon of his skin. You think that I’d keep doing this if it were high? My skin is sensitive. I bruise easily, flush quickly. I’ve never done well with extremes. When it comes to wounds, I’m risk averse. I want to understand my vulnerabilities. I told Thad all of this, more or less: after I’d shown him countless images of Western Cypress trees [Cupressus macrocarpa a variety of chaparral native to the California coast]; after he’d enlarged my favorite photograph—a wide-stretched, old grove stunner from Point Lobos—then fattened the trunk, funked up the branches, and applied a stencil twice the size I’d asked for to the inside length of my right forearm. The stencil ink was loud. A dankish purple, abrupt against the pinkwhite of my skin. Together, we’d admired and critiqued my new reflection in the mirror as I rotated my arm outwards, then inwards, examining the way the branches reached towards my wrist bone, the way the skin and fascia moved in concert with a ghostly wind. I wore the purple stencil on my forearm until it faded. Then I made the appointment for today’s tattoo: the real thing.



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