Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Her Summer Tattoos

"Her Summer Tattoos"
by Jake Kilroy

She had a tattoo of a field on her upper right arm. She got it the day she decided to become an artist in a big city.

When she slept, the field swayed and played with the wind that would surely dance on her arm. The breeze would roll in on warm summer nights when she slept facing the open window, several stories up. She was always wondered if she’d ever spool out and fall, but she never determined if she would hit the fence, the tree or the pavement.

She just slept.

The meadow of dead grass and barley would wave its ocean of gold with its thin black lines, flapping against the breeze, rupturing its own tendencies, against her soft skin. She would sigh blissfully and twist her way into the sheets. Once asleep, the wind would caress the field magnificently, and she would roll her tongue in her sleep, trying to speak in dreams.

When men would spend the night, they would kiss her neck, but never the meadow. And none of them ever knew if it was by their choice or hers. Their lips just never grazed the Midwest.

One morning, she awoke to a new cow skull tattoo on her shoulder blade. But instead of calling a friend or rummaging her room, she sat in bed and repeatedly grazed the animal's head with her smallest finger before adjusting her underwear and meandering into the kitchen to make cereal and read her book at her island.

She slept a summer’s week petting the cow skull and wondering what it would say if it belonged to a cow that had been loopy enough to wander into her arm’s scene, turning the field into a pasture. She would smirk and spending the morning writing poetry about the cow.

After spending the night with red wine, she gave the cow skull a name, but never told anyone.

Another day, a barn appeared just above her breast. And again, instead of fashioning it a wound or corrupting the day with antics, she smiled sweetly and put her hand under the barn, as if to hold it in place and keep it from collapsing with wooden planks plummeting into her bra.

Before long, her pale blue underwear began to reveal clouds floating across. She thought it was silly to sit up and stare down at her own crotch. So, one lazy Saturday morning, she pulled the underwear down to her ankles and then pressed her legs against the wall, and she would guess the shapes she saw in the sky blue underwear as the clouds drifted across. Little white fluffy clouds sailed between the blue rims squeezed against her ankles. Sometimes, she would believe she saw the bodies and faces of relatives, friends and lovers in the clouds, and her toes would flutter and a gentle giggle would escape from her cheekbones.

Soon, a river was running across her bra. It came in from one edge of her torso and ran a straight course to the other side. It would wake her up some Sunday mornings, but she would simply crinkle her nose and revolve in her bed until she was on her back, so she could hear the river better.

The meadow scenery varied as the summer bounced along. Sometimes, birds would appear and sing or snow would fall silently. Or something else would emerge, but each new thing meant something different. When the birds showed up, she would sit with her arms on the windowsill and wait for rain. When the snow arrived, she would invite friends over. She made a chart during one last August weekend.

She wanted to remember all of it, as she could feel an end, not an eternity coming.

When autumn came, the river stopped tickling and the clouds stopped coming, and soon, the meadow stopped swaying. When winter came, nothing changed. When spring came, there was still no movement.

But every year, from the first morning light until the last night darkness, her tattoos would come to life and stay the summer.

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