all those times when i was little, and you glanced at me and whinnied, you'll get blood poisoning from all that ink soaking in--and i smiled, the way i do when i'm amused by my own embarrassment-
felt sad to wash the ink off with that cheap beer-foam soap in the bathroom, watching the clear tap water spit and sputter over my hands and swirl down the pipes gray
but then it was boredom that guided my hand tracing new black veins over the copper-green ones under the pulse in my wrist-- and i liked how fresh and wet those black marks looked,
and i liked how new and magical it felt doodling tattoos on myself and the slow scratch of the pen tip, ant-print sentences marching solemnly up my arms
until you flicked your eyes over, then caught my fingers flipped them over, and flung them away, giggling why'd you do that? you'll kill yourself, all the ink soaking in your blood
and i smiled, and i was sorry and i was scared--what if you were right and the ink was like the smoke from loosely-wrapped cigarettes and it was curdling my insides, smoking them black?
i should have stopped, after you warned me to wash the ink off but boredom forced my hand, and i left exam rooms with sterile lights glaring and buzzing so disapprovingly over my ivy-ink skin
and every time you noticed, the cycle'd start again-- i'd laugh, amused at my own forgetfulness and flush the pen lines into the sink, thinking now i'm not at risk of blood poisoning by ink--
but i couldn't kick the ease of the habit, so i grew up emptying pens onto living skin as well as paper made from the white deadness of trees: a strange form of self-harm (?)
now i'm mostly grown up and you're not around i think you'd be glad to know i've stopped treating the backs of my hands like canvases--but then again you'd probably shake your head to know that:
now i write for a quicker fix, the pull of boredom's addiction has gone so far--now i dip my fingertips in the blots that i spin out of my pens when i'm thinking hard enough to fall apart;
and i've gotten in so deep that you can't scrub all the lines from me anymore, and i guess i don't really try to, either, just letting the ink run in the grainy ridged roads of my fingerprints,
and i can't shift the blame to boredom, because this habit of writing is built on something else something i can't name, that makes me restless unless i sit down and write to watch words form.
i think--and you would say the same that the ink has finally gotten to me, flowed up to my brain and the peace i know when i print sentences that march in formation across faceless pages
is just the ink in me that's so miscible with blood, looping through and guiding my fingers to trace out new words, fresh and wet that shimmer when smeared with my wrist's fluttering pulse.