What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos

My poem, “What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos” is featured on Homebound Publication’s website, promoting the release of Reconnaissance and celebrating National Poetry Month.

Jodie had a beautiful spirit, and though she had gone through a lot in her life, she made laugh and smile, and made an otherwise uncomfortable freshman year of college tolerable. Her family continues her memory and honors her with the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation. Please read about their work and the mission to improve public safety and and education about stray power lines.

What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos

—for Jodie Lane

She could not be buried,
her father told her,
with ink scalpelled into skin,
defacement of the body
prohibited by Jewish law.
With spider legs painted
around skull’s demon visage,
she wore hers without apology
under stringy tank tops
and the ripped sarcasm
of baggy sweats around
a petite frame. She confided
obsessions over cigarettes
blurred into the falling leaves
of freshman year laughing,
never telling stories
of spiders or skulls, not minding
the sunflower I chose
for my own mark. We wanted
to ink into the eternal, forge
the intransient specter
of adulthood with scars
of our own making.

The last time I saw her
we sat for coffee between
darkened booths at the local
diner. A postcard sent
from Texas came a few years
later and then abbreviated
obituary lines stapled
between the alumni magazine,
electrocution, freak
accident walking dogs,
voltage engraving her body
with ungrounded shrieks
through a Manhattan sidewalk.

East 11th street is pocketed
with sewer drains and manholes,
and a street sign marks
the site where she fell.
I stare up into the permanence
of the story, one I kept hidden
in the flower on my shoulder,
the rumor of loss now etched
in visible lettering across
an overcast sky, persisting
beyond a combustible
and porous layer of skin.