By Cheryl Dumesnil
Wood-planked floors, twelve-foot
ceiling, a wall of glossy snapshots—
dragonfly, water lily, barbed wire
spiraling a woman’s thigh. The artist
bends over my lover’s shaved leg,
his palate of paper cups filled with ink.
Through her skin, three finches
emerge on a blackberry branch,
ink mixed with blood beading her calf.
For the third time, I run downstairs
to the car, slap the gearshift into
neutral, roll over the parking cop’s
chalk mark, buying us time. Hours
I sat beside them, telling stories,
changing the music, rubbing color
back into her fingertips. Now I
lean against the car and listen—
the buzz of the needle piercing
her skin, the heart-shaped sign
swinging its rusted chain. This is
my job—he will change her body
forever, I will love what she becomes.