Lisa tells us:
"Last September, I got a rattlesnake in my living room. (I live rural outside the small town Moriarty, NM). I spent over two hours in close proximity to the snake, and ultimately ended up calling the sheriff's department and getting a deputy to help me catch it and release it off my property. After the encounter I spent months and months writing direct address poems to the snake and ended up with a play where the snake speaks back. The Relenting is both "true story" and archetypal and imagined journey, paralleling the transformation the snake sparked. The encounter, and the writing where I tried to process the encounter, changed my life, and because my life had changed (and is still changing), I wanted a tattoo to symbolize the transformation.
The only tattoo image I considered was the Minoan Snake Goddess.
I understood her intuitively in a way I'm still working to express with words. I worked with tattoo artist Serena Lander. I knew Serena's work on visual artist Suzanne Sbarge, who regularly helps bring Serena to New Mexico from Seattle. I trusted Suzanne and was right to. I had a great experience with Serena, the right kind of energy and contemplative exchange. I wanted line work, one color, kind of ruddy toned. She took images I sent her from archeological digs at the Palace of Knossos and transformed them into the image now on my arm.
I consider the image both a prayer and a mark of a turning point in my life. (I have three earlier tattoos, two black, one white, all smaller, from a decade prior, sparked by a different significant recognition.) The subtext for the new one is this: right before the encounter with the rattler, I'd just made it out of a wheelchair I'd been in for five months due to multiple sclerosis. Arms are not something I take for granted any longer... and the tattoo in that respect is simply about gratitude and facing disability with resilience, as much as I can muster..."
Please venture on over to BillyBlog to read an excerpt from the aforementioned The Relenting here.
New Mexico poet Lisa Gill is the recipient of a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a 2010 New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award, and just earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico this April. She is a literary arts activist, currently booking poets for "Church of Beethoven," and the author of three books of poetry, Red as a Lotus, Mortar & Pestle, and Dark Enough. A fourth book, The Relenting, is forthcoming with New Rivers Press (June 2010) and can be considered either a play or a poem scripted for two voices, rattler and woman. She'll be touring the play in the upcoming year, starting with a staged reading with Tricklock's Kevin Elder at 516 Arts in Albuquerque in June and then onward to Minnesota, LA, hopefully even to NY.
Thanks to Lisa for sharing her amazing tattoo with us here on Tattoosday!