Lady Tattooer



I am stretched out like a supple canvas for her
We liked colors and shapes
Collaborators, affinity
Spilling in each buzzing scratch and
Wipes up soaked
In conversational hum
I love the wooden floorings and the frames
The wall is an exhibition, so am I
In the becoming
A prancing gallery of ideas
Miniskirts and ankle-high socks
Mocking their gaze and humbling each pair of eyes into
Disgusted indignation

I am reclaiming a body coded in ancestral story:
Gendered words. Euphemisms
Like screens. Omnipresent fear. But most of all
Inheritance of shame
Trauma and love embraced as I
Learnt to be best
Touched by animals who sought to each
Rape a piece to pay off some
Debt incurred at the dawn of time when
CRUNCH. Hiss. Damnation of Eve.

And then there was
The Shanghai Dream, Madame Butterfly, Hentai Schoolgirls
Almond eyes and soulless territory
Their speckless supple touch
Nursing erotic secrets on their left
Breast, on their right lap
Falls heavy heads dripping
Saliva slick and wet
Japanese barbarians. American killers. Faceless white porn
Man. I inherit these traumas.
Smug and taut. My body
Becomes my field of imagination
Instead of theirs. I will it to be covered
With colors: from my ear tips
To the soles of my foot. Grow!
The artist giggles and shows off
Her almost complete canvas. What a woman
I want to be.
I look forward to burning eyes
And annihilating assumptions rooted in
Colonial pasts.

Who knew war could be so beautiful.


Artwork by Helena Hauss “Afternoon Delight”

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