|Photo by Clint Frazier
"When I was younger, my father used to play The Beatles records on repeat while he ironed his clothes on the weekends. Consequently, some of my earliest memories are punctuated with the scent of Faultless Starch and Lennon/McCartney singing 'Blackbird.' The five blackbirds that make up this design represent a member of my immediate family.
The moment I decided to attend graduate school in the Midwest, I knew I had to get a piece for my family that was inked in my hometown—Sacred Art Tattoos & Piercings, to be exact. (The owner, Brad Worrell, is absolutely incredible!) I wanted a design that would represent family and foundation. Now, my tattoo functions as a daily reminder that it’s okay to have roots and wings."Leslie also sent us this poem, which first appeared in Looseleaf Tea:
Barreling through the air like a bare-knuckled fist,
I am raw hide & pink panties clinging to the edge
of my narrow hips as I leap into a turquoise tiled
swimming pool. I am a child, & I haven’t learned
how to swim yet, haven’t learned to thrash my limbs
violently beneath the surface to keep my head afloat.
I must have known then, the moment before I flopped
belly first into the pool, that I would float. I must have.
Months later, when my white friend asks if I can swim,
I’ll lower my head towards the creek bed beneath
the broken bridge where we are standing & say, No,
there are snakes in this water. Gesturing with her index
finger, she will point at the water moccasins gliding
beneath the water, & say, those Mexicans can swim.
I’ll laugh at the slip of her tongue, not knowing then
the water moccasin is a venomous snake that claims
the waters of Southern states. Its defense tactics are
often over-exaggerated as aggressiveness. Unless
threatened, the moccasin minds its own. I’ll learn
this years later, just like I’ll learn how to tread water
out of necessity, & she will learn how to swim faster.
~ ~ ~
Leslie Marie Aguilar was born and raised in Abilene, Texas. She has served as the Poetry Editor of Harbinger Journal of Literature and Art and is the current Web Editor of Indiana Review. She is also the recipient of a National Society of Arts and Letters Literature Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Iron Horse Review, Ninth Letter, Rattle, and Spillway among others. She is currently an MFA candidate at Indiana University.
Thanks to Leslie for sharing her blackbirds and her poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!
This entry is ©2014 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.