The day you got tattooed…

puffy clouds in a bright blue sky

the air was thick,
and the sky was locked
between white and grey.

When you lifted your sleeve,
they stared back at me
like magic marker on the kitchen wall…
those markings
that will forever brand my child.

The ink on your arm
was dark and bright—
black, red and green.

Your view of the world
took the shape of the cross
and the words
“Believe and be saved. John 3:16.”

You asked me how I felt about it.
I felt its permanence.

Overhead,
the clouds took shape
and drifted on
and the sun centered itself—
decisive
in a hydrangea-blue sky.

©2018 by Julianne Palumbo
Previously published in
Announcing the Thaw (Finishing Line Press 2014).


Julianne Palumbo is the author of Into Your Light (Flutter Press, 2013) and Announcing the Thaw (Finishing Line Press, 2014), poetry chapbooks about raising teenagers. She is the founder of Mothers Always Write, an online literary magazine about motherhood.

One Comment on “The day you got tattooed…

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