Tattoo and Poetry

(A Sestina)

Water

“Poetry sucks.”
His words are ice,
even in the sunlight—
golden, like her tattoo—
ripples of swimming koi, red, green, and orange
on skin made bumpy by the wind.

She lets the wind
caress her arms. A suck
on her straw brings orange
elixir, cooled by ice
quenchingly throatward. Now her tattoo
is vivid, swimming on her thigh in the sunlight.

Her pen remembers the sunlight,
the dunes, the wind,
and the little shack where she got her tattoo.
She remembers thinking it would suck
if it got infected. He had put ice
on it, over a washcloth that was orange,

orange
like the waning sunlight;
and the ice
had cooled her burning thigh like a merciful wind,
entering, uninvited, to suck
the curtains out the window, blowing on her tattoo.

She feels her tattoo
burning orange,
and she tries to write a poem that doesn’t suck,
seeing his glowing face in the sunlight,
remembering the wind,
feeling the ice…

The ice.
Cold on her tattoo,
whipped by the wind
as the sky turns orange,
on the back of his bike; the sunlight
shrinking into a ball that the sea would suck

down, down, suck beneath the ice:
sunlight, tattoo,
orange, wind.

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