© Steve King
All rights reserved
My wife came home to me last night
and she unveiled the new tattoo.
She’d hid it well beneath the folds
of the plain fabric of her blouse.
I blushed at it so naively—
to know that night another hand
had left this mark upon her form;
to know another’s eye surveyed
and measured out the pure canvas.
I did not ask to know his name,
just happy that he didn’t sign
his artwork with some grand flourish.
“What do you think?” she finally asked.
But I was not thinking just then:
she had been changed—had changed herself,
all without the least letting on
that any change would soon be due.
The artwork was a tiny orb
encircling a tight spiral
of flashing, enprismed color,
a captive rainbow gathered round
within the unknown stranger’s hold.
“It’s me,” she boasted. She smiled.
“And, no, I wasn’t even drunk.”
Her laughter echoed in the words.
She was so pleased with the new ‘her’
she’d found there amid the many
strange waiting possibilities.
So I agreed. “Yes, it is you.”
I didn’t picture how she could
see within the small talisman
such a beautiful reflection.
Should I be looking there for her?
Must I reintroduce myself
as someone else, unknown and new?
The calling card upon her skin
appeared inflamed, and tinged with blood.
Had she not explained it to me,
I would have seen it as a wound.
“Doesn’t this new ‘you’ come with pain?”
“Not very much. I was surprised.
I had so fixed my mind on it,
the much greater pain would have been
to find a convenient excuse,
rationalize my way again
to doing nothing whatever.
I’m sorry that I never thought
to say a word of it to you.
It was only a lark at first,
and without anticipation;
no planning or pretense in it.
There was only the empty space.
I am trying to make sure sense,
but I had never come against
a sudden thought like that before.
An emptiness? So…awaiting?
What words were these to lead desire?
Empty of what, I could not say.
And why would not it be empty?”
It is no more an empty place.
And she must now exert her will
to fathom fully that new self
--the one that cannot be explained--
in the dark circle closing round
the fresh-born colors in her life.
I too will gain a sense of it,
as I behold the new stranger
now brandishing this bold palette.
It’s not for me just a mirror
reflecting exotic colors.
Not an impulsive thing, unthought,
nor a quick reckoning of whim.
A former world has indeed changed
by more than just a needle’s span:
so, too, in those musings I had
while waiting upon her return
last evening, when all was well,
when the blank spaces still made sense,
before the time she’d shed her blouse
and donned another world anew.