Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tattooed Poets Project - Heather Truett

Up next on the Tattooed Poets Project is Heather Truett, who sent us this photo:

along with a shot of the tattooist at work:

These may appear as three seemingly simple Hebrew letters, but there is more to this piece than just a Hebrew word, as Heather elaborates:
“The tattoo was a 27th birthday gift from a girlfriend I have known since I was 6 and she was 3. We went together. She got a Latin phrase in a beautiful script and I chose this. I had been planning a tattoo to somehow commemorate a friend who died and my own battle with depression. The verse in scripture that speaks most to me is Isaiah 61:3, which includes the phrase ‘beauty for ashes.’ The girl I wanted to commemorate, Natalie, also loved the verse. On a whim, I looked the verse up in Hebrew. I always love following a verse back to its origin and trying to understand what the words actually meant to the writer, rather than placing all trust in modern translation. When I realized the Hebrew word used to mean beauty in that verse actually means, ‘a crown of beauty,’ as in, a young girl being crowned queen and given honor and status in society, I knew I had my tattoo.
You see, every year, on the anniversary of the day Natalie died, her friends around the world don tiaras and wear them wherever they go. We paint our toenails purple, as she loved to do, and we drink a Diet Coke in her honor. There are other rituals, but these are the big three. To find the word ‘crown’ hidden there in my verse left me in tears, good tears, the kind of crying you do when someone at last understands exactly who you are and what you mean to them. I printed and double-checked the Hebrew lettering and took it with me to Devine Street Tattoo on a visit to Columbia, SC. It's not fancy, just three letters. But those three letters say so much to me every time I look at them. I placed the word on the inside of my left ankle, so when I look down or cross my legs, I see the tattoo. I don't mind showing it to other people, and I love telling how I chose it and why I got it, but it is, ultimately, for me and me alone, so I wanted it in a place easy for me to see."
By way of a poem, Heather submitted this:

My Brother is the Poem

My brother is the poem that exists,
still busily writing itself
in the hills of my hometown.
He leaves for work, welding
in leather and heat and without
a single complaint, because, hell!
He needs the job.
He strings out verse and stanza,
tripping over the meter
on seventy acres of God's creation.
Don't let them mine you too,
Big Brother.

It's with rhythm and flow that
he pays the bills and loves the wife and
suffers the pain of parenthood that stabs
with its cliche sword, double-edged.
Who knew? Who predicted
snowflakes and razorblades?
My brother, cigarette lit and smoke circling,
is the poetry falling
to earth, right there,
in Eastern Kentucky, while I
only call myself a poet, writing
in the air conditioned suburb, pretending
I got out, when I never did,

not really, anyhow.

Years pass and miles unroll like
so much butcher paper
down the holler, but my body still grows roots
back home, there, in Nat's Creek,
Daniel's Creek, Homer's trailer,
white house with black shutters,
minnow fishing, snake killing,
coal mining with the black lung,
family and the most Primitive of
Baptist churches, where
my soul gets fed, and only then
can the poem
grow branches.

~ ~ ~

 Heather Truett describes herself as “Hill-born, a coal miner's granddaughter, a brilliant spark of brain with a wee bit of crazy thrown in for good measure, a writer, a poet, a wife in the bizarre world of the church, wearer of silver tiaras and painter of purple toenails, I am me. I have published poetry, essays and articles in the past. My credits include: The Mom Egg, The Paintsville Herald, Jackson Free Press, Slugfest Ltd, Abundance Press, The Invitation Tupelo, Busy Parents Online, Mommy Tales, Just For Mom and other publications (more info available on my website, I am currently a homeschooling Mom to a special needs child and the wife of a youth minister in Tupelo, Mississippi. I have taught poetry workshops in schools and for the homeschool co-op we participate in each semester.” You can also check out her website,

Thanks to Heather for her contribution to the Tattooed Poets Project!

This entry is ©2012 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission. 

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1 comment:

Heather said...

So fun to see myself here. Thank you for this opportunity!