They say that it will hurt and I want it to.
Give me a kind of pain I can hunger for
and fathom, pain that folds itself and fits
neatly into the outline of a sparrow
on the shoulder blade, a lover’s name
written in cursive, a bouquet of foxglove
scrawled across ribs. I have known pain
from the cradle. Child swaddled in torture
of test tubes, experiments. Let me undress.
I tell the artist to cover my back in scales
of emerald, paint my arms golden, give me
swirls of liquid fire. Mural me a dragon.
She presses needle to the canvas of my skin,
and I listen to the buzzing, relish every shiny
drop of ink and blood until I’m no more woman
than living tapestry. No longer mere vessel
for pain, I’m steeped in it. I am swimming
in metals: cobalt and copper, mercury and lead.
Rachel Pittman is an MFA candidate at McNeese State University and serves as an assistant editor for the McNeese Review. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Georgia Southern University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Helix, miniskirt magazine, Von Aegir Literary, and Whale Road Review.