It is memories that tattoo tender skin,
pain that holds and pierces, ink etching
indelible pictures refusing to fade with time.

And the crowds admire clear images:
hearts torn; twisted flowers entwined
about innocent crosses; new butterflies
hovering over chaste fleur-de-lis;
snakes coiled, threatening to strike;
scorpions like small crabs in wait to use
the fierce sting; enormous, demonic dragons
dredging flames; finally, the empty skull.

Perhaps you do not see tattoos I wear,
the puckering, wounded flesh, an ache
remaining there for life, pictures hidden
beneath my smile, under sweet songs I sing
and forced, cracked laughter.

by Raynette Eitel

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