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“Inked”- an excerpt…

This small piece comes from a chapter in Nearly Orthodox…now in it’s 4th round of revisions on my end. It’s coming together, words tightening up, taking deep, full breaths and small sips of water mixed with brandy when things get heavy.

For now, though, this is where my brain is hovering so that I thought I’d let you take a peek.

The skin’s reaction to the needle and ink is to seal itself, to create the protective cover and scab itself over. After the pain and vibration of the needle comes the healing. The skin wants to heal, it wants to force out the ink and find itself again. The process of the tattoo is to guide the skin to heal while taking in the new information the ink offers. The ways of healing vary from artist to artist, person to person. Serena instructed me to give the skin a short time to regroup after the initial event then to offer it a kind of cauterization, sealing with hot water to rinse away the lotion, the remains of the stencil, the attempts to scar or scab. The skin wants to heal. If the artist goes too deep, too quickly, the ink is blurred, spreading out and destroying the image over time, fading into some unknown or unintended version of itself. If the artist does not go deep enough the ink will fade and peel off in the healing process, leaving gaps in the image. Over the course of the weeks that follow, the skin will heal, it will take in the ink, it will make it a part of itself. And though the butterfly on my wrist catches me by surprise each time I see it, it is perhaps too bright, too big, too blue but it is mine, it has grown into me like the Liturgy is growing into me over time. When I am away from Liturgy for too long I find I burn for it now, strangely enough. When I return I am coming home again because it is now a part of me, sinking into my skin and my spirit. The fear of regret is still present and may always be present but the butterfly on my wrist reminds me that everything is new again, everything reborn. This journey is something I’ve considered, studied and chosen, that is growing into my skin, that it is becoming part of me.

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©2021 by Angela Doll Carlson