"I got my tattoo last April during the Little Grassy Literary Festival at Carbondale, IL. I was in Carbondale to do a reading from my first book, when I got the email that my second book had been accepted. I wanted to do something to mark the occasion, something both wild and permanent, and there was a poet and tattoo artist, Ruth Awad, at the dinner table who offered to give me my first ink. I spent that night celebrating in Ruth's kitchen getting my first tattoo.
I chose the word Duende, a word the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca said represented "a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought." A guitar maestro had once explained it to him this way: 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.' When people ask me to explain it, I usually say it's an art that asks you to do battle with what is darkest in you, and what comes out is already baptized by black sounds."Here is the poem Traci selected for us to read:
Aubade with a Broken Neck
The first night you don’t come home
summer rains shake the clematis.
I bury the dead moth I found in our bed,
scratch up a rutabaga and eat it rough
with dirt. The dog finds me and presents
between his gentle teeth a twitching
nightjar. In her panic, she sings
in his mouth. He gives me her pain
like a gift, and I take it. I hear
the cries of her young, greedy with need,
expecting her return, but I don’t let her go
until I get into the house. I read
the auspices—the way she flutters against
the wallpaper’s moldy roses means
all can be lost. How she skims the ceiling
means a storm approaches. You should see
her in the beginnings of her fear, rushing
at the starless window, her body a dart,
her body the arrow of longing, aimed,
as all desperate things are, to crash
not into the object of desire,
but into the darkness behind it.
Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins: Poems (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry) (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She was the 2008-09 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and currently teaches at Western Michigan University, where she is a doctoral associate and King/Chávez/Parks Fellow.
Thanks to Traci Brimhall for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday!
This entry is ©2012 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.