Tattoo

October 17, 2012

by Carl Dennis

If the body is the house of the soul,
What’s wrong with a little home decoration
More permanent than the drapes in the parlor
Or the fabric on the dining-room chairs?

A forearm, say, adorned with a tropical flower
Or with a palm tree under a deep blue sky,
Suggesting the body is glad to recall
Its stay in Eden, whether or not the soul
Regards that episode as relevant now.

Or consider the young waitress
Who served you lunch just an hour ago,
How her sleeveless blouse revealed
A small heart on her shoulder
Inscribed with two names, Dave and Gretchen,
Under a sprig of lilac.

No need to assume she’s failed to imagine a time
When a boyfriend more congenial
Wakes up beside her only to be reminded
There was once a Dave who was all she wanted.

Could be she wants to send a reminder
To the Gretchen she may become
Not to forget the girl who believed
That holding on was a project worthy
Of all the attention that she could muster,
As much a challenge as letting go.

“Tattoo” by Carl Dennis from Callings. © Penguin Poets, 2010.

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