You get addicted to the ink,
or the pain; one of the two.
When she came in here for that rose
on her shoulder, I might have known
it would come to this; years later,
her body painted from head
to foot in a thousand colours.
I read her now like a picture book,
a china vase, a dream of my own making.
I’ve pierced her ears, her nose,
put studs in her nipples,
a silver ring through the hood
of her clitoris. I’ve covered
her breasts with moths,
her thighs with dolphins.
Her back is a forest of shrubs
and birds, her arms are vines,
her belly a nest of vipers.
I’ve touched her where only
a lover should touch, have heard her sigh
in the cold November gloom
of my studio. I’ve felt her burn,
at the brush of a finger, and hardly
a word passed between us.
I think of her sometimes laid
in her bed, the buzz of my needle
still in her skin, a lover
tracing the braille of a new tattoo,
or holding her, gently,
amazed at the wildlife swarming
under his hands, how she moves
in the flicker of candles; or watching
her sleep, how he loses himself
in the richness and intrigue.
The journeys he takes.
The stories he finds in her skin.