Paulette tells us:
"The image is of my 3rd tattoo, which was inked in June 2011. My sister also has a few tattoos and we decided to get the same tattoo to celebrate the fact that, after a lot of work, we'd become best friends. We both liked the idea of a butterfly because it represents a specific type of change. When caterpillars become butterflies, they become who they were meant to be all along, which was a great metaphor for our journeys of growing into ourselves. We worked with Bill at Ambrotos Tattoo in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. We liked this butterfly because it didn't look too girly like so many butterfly tattoos do. My sister didn't like the stars so Bill made a couple of sketches that replaced the stars with ribbons. Ultimately I kept the stars because they felt quirky like me. My sister's much more elegant than I so the version with the ribbons fit her perfectly."Paulette sent us the following poem, "The Makers of Memorials," which was previously published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly. She noted, "I believe that the best tattoos are memorials of a sort; stories that we carry on the outside as well as the inside."
The Makers of Memorials
They sing. They sing blue songs
their mothers wore.
They sing grief, bone-thick & left-handed.
They sing songs cross oceans, cross sidewalks.
They sing skies sealed shut.
They sing men born wearing walking shoes.
They sing women born palms up.
They sing from mouths without lipstick,
charts without notes, pianos without tunes.
They sing back-door songs & apron-
tied-low songs. They sing.
Unmaking the made into something less
teeth-breaking. They sing
dead crops, dead gods, men
put down, men put out,
dreams put off. Off key, off beat, they sing.
Steady. Loud. Relentless. They sing
instead of, in spite of, next door to. They sing
in clinics, in bedrooms, on corners. They sing.
Women in blue & purple, in thorn tiaras braided
from agains & nevermores & never minds.
Songs of children lost, of savings lost,
pawn tickets lost.
They sing. They sing. They sing
blue songs of our mothers,
holier-songs of our blue mothers.
They sing the slow leak that will drown
the world. They call God home
for the re-making.
~ ~ ~
Paulette Beete's poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in magazines including Crab Orchard Review, Escape into Life, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Gargoyle, and The Found Poetry Review. Her chapbooks include Blues for a Pretty Girl (Finishing Line Press) and Voice Lessons (Plan B Press). Her work also appears in several anthologies, including Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC. She blogs (occasionally) at thehomebeete.com.
Thanks to Paulette for sharing her tattoo and poem with us here on Tattoosday's Tattooed Poets Project!
This entry is ©2015 Tattoosday. The poem and tattoo are reprinted with the poet's permission.
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