We Show Our Tattoos to the World
You frown at the skeleton on your wrist,
a temporary transfer for Halloween.
Arm stretched in front of you, a puzzled
appraising gaze, you say it’s upside down.
I tell you that when I had mine,
spoke to the artist about rotation,
he said we show our tattoos to the world.
A permanent initial –
your letter that I keep on my wrist –
performs a headstand before my eyes
but I wear it so that everyone might see.
Our paths cross at the tills.
Her blue velour tracksuit at odds
with carefully set hair, her make-up
slightly clowned from unsteady hands.
She bends slow knees to my daughter’s height,
asks her what’s your baby’s name?
My little girl wheels her doll’s pushchair forward,
starts four-year-old chatter.
I turn to the checkout, half hearing
the lady’s praise of pretty names and red hair.
I realise she’s opened her purse, is passing coins
to my daughter, whose hand is open, eager for shiny things.
I stutter at how to say no,
how to give the money back,
we teach not to take from strangers .
She says I never had any children, which is sad.
I smile, touch her turquoise arm,
thank her for this kindness;
glad of my daughter’s little hand
cupped in mine.
I find shavings of rubbings-out
piled on her floor, discarded skins.
The spiral spine of my notebook,
stretched from pages taken for sketching.
The sheen of gel pens
claimed as a crayon upgrade.
Post-it notes appear,
her dots and loops around the house,
then highlighters: knock-your-eye-out
orange and pink streaks emblazon walls.
I sit at my emptied desk, thinking how quickly
one little girl gets through so much stationery.
Claire Walker’s poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and websites including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears, And Other Poems, Nutshells and Nuggets and Crystal Voices (Crystal Clear Creators, 2015).
In October 2015 her debut pamphlet, The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile, was published by V. Press.