An unfortunate tattoo curls its discolored tendrils out from under her faded racerback like a wave, like a come-hither gesture, it beckons me backward in time to when she was carefree, when she smoked more and thanked less. Memories brim with the scent of cigarettes extinguished in the last swallows of beer, stagnate in their discarded glass bottles, fill the corners of the room and balance on the edges of standing furniture as if daring the room's occupants to give their homes just the slightest bump, so that they might tumble to the dirty carpet below and add to the stains there. The smells of old sex and dirty clothes, a nest-like odor that is as comfortable as it is repellent. That was where she'd come from, where she'd been bludgeoned into adulthood by her womanhood and learned what it meant to be someone else's doormat.

All that remained of those dark days now waves at me from below her shoulder, waves hello from across the years; a true scar with meaning far deeper than the one she'd first assigned to it, to justify that permanent ink.

2014.05.29 – 2023.02.03

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