The Tattoos I’ll Never Get

Catherine Esposito Prescott

are legion: for my birth, sleeves of mythological beasts, muscled gods and goddesses emerging from the sea, an island for the sirens, a butterfly for when I was becoming and for the cancer removed, for the sick gland, also removed, ying and yang from the year I left my religion, the names of old boyfriends, of my dead, and my babies written in wedding-invitation script across my forearms, infinity symbols, a bracelet of laid-back eights around my wrist, one for each child and one for their dad. I’m missing hearts, arrows, and stars. I’m missing a Celtic symbol for perseverance and a Sanskrit word to remind me of who I really am, the self beyond groceries and credit card payments, self of the empty mind. This morning I saw a rainbow backbend over the earth’s shoulder. I would like to have this rainbow etched across my back, blade to blade. It would look over the sun inked above my tailbone, spiraled, whirling, and ancient. I imagine my tattoos awake, animated, winking and whispering on the tapestry of my body, a visual diary of a life well lived or lived like many others — part real, part fantasy, all of it mine.

Catherine Esposito Prescott is a writer, yoga philosophy teacher, and co-founder and editor-in-chief of SWWIM Every Day. The author of the chapbooks Maria Sings and The Living Ruin, her recent work appears in Green Mountains Review Online, NELLE, Pleiades, Spillway, Stirring: A Literary Collection, and Verse Daily.