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You Do Irrational Things When You Are Grieving

At the third red light, seven miles

from the hospital, I saw the tattoo shop standing

at the corner of 77th Street

The red light was counting down

10, 9, 8, 7 … seconds to green

I had the sudden strong urge, to grab hold of

the steering wheel

to veer us into the shop, and demand

a tattoo —a bloody inscription that will bear you: our child, alone

in the hospital now— into us forever, till death do us apart

Not your name, that would be too great of

a burden for you to bear.

Is our lovesuffocating? You don’t need to know

how deeply you are

carved into my veins.

Someone told me, he had gotten a tattoo for his daughter

when she had the same mental breakdown

I looked at his white doctor’s gown

underneath the sleeve, there is an ink mark on his arm

taking the shape of a dragon, yet it’s the silhouette of

a father’s love

his one and only tattoo

The red light turned green

the tattoo shop slowly, faded out

of the rearview mirror

yet the pain and the yearning, for you

continue to pulse, rush in my consciousness

etching outlines of you in every possible way, and

bleeding all over my soul —inkless, yet forever staying

(This poem originally appeared on Medium where I write often.)

Photo credit by Linh Pham


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