The Works of Theresa Senato Edwards
Theresa Senato Edwards's poetry is forthcoming in Press 1 and has appeared in decomP, Triplopia, AdmitTwo, Boxcar Poetry Review, Clean Sheets Magazine, Softblow, Chronogram, and elsewhere. She has an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (poetry). She tutors writing at Marist College and is founder and editor of Holly Rose Review, www.hollyrosereview.com, an online poetry & tattoo literary journal.
All Poems © Theresa Senato Edwards
Flat & Hollow
"pain has, or can at least sometimes find, form."
Pain has form
flat on the front
of the daily news
Silly Putty flat
pink peeling off
a black & white
We hold it, stretch it,
killed last night
manipulated by dirty
those l's strangling us
into skewed horizontal.
Words woman found
naked in field adjoining mall
press into pink solidness
flattened by our thumb,
to what's left out:
below her waist,
a blackened space
like eyes sucked dry
by cavernous night,
her edges traced with a blade
to find light.
Two weeks after radiation,
you slowly slide your index finger
across your gristly areola,
gently peel the dark brown skin from your left breast.
Tiny flakes fall to the floor,
an odor, like the smell of dirt in the cracks of a child's neck.
Your right breast: almost ivory, soft pink nipple,
accompanies the ghostly lingering of the left side.
And you're naked in the mirror,
hairs wet from the morning shower,
armpits damp from sweat already gathering
as you softly rub ointment on your tender scar,
feel the slight indent, gravity filling it in.
You hesitate before getting dressed,
eyes trace the brown scalene triangle
from your left breast, extending slightly
into the shade of health on your right side.
You feel a silence of process: that languid,
invisible sketching of the path
you've taken to heal your body.
It's something like that dream you remember
from childhood: the brook crossing that doesn't end,
you're caught somewhere mid stream,
deaf amid a strong current, cold water
soothing hot toes through sneakers.
My eyes listen to the tattoo artist
a dance of curls beneath a winter hat
he wears inside his tattoo parlor.
The Joker tattoo on his inner right arm,
ear lobes half moons of studs.
All of a sudden, my ears
the snap of sterile vanilla gloves,
buzzing resonance of metal in air
as he tests his machine then quietly
applies the pattern for my third tattoo.
Cigarette smoke lightly shades
the air, maneuvers down my throat.
I'm not ready for the pain that
begins the outline on my stomach,
left of my belly button.
A sharp, blackened ripping of my body
made by covered hands that guide
the tool's cut, then wipe my blood into the past.
The stale room presses deep, sucking color from my face
as sound carves symbols of my parents.
I have nothing to hold onto,
his lean legs straddle the chair's
side; I imagine them against me
as I try to clutch leather before my husband's
thick, strong body takes its place in my mind.
Needles press just below my ribs,
form a new genus on skin:
holly vine entwines thorn-stem of rose.
Vine and stem fuse in remembrance:
holly for December (my father's birthday month),
rose for June (my mother's).
Their inked tribute lost momentarily
in my obsession: younger man, artist's
art on me.
I go back for color;
go back for him,
This time lidocaine two hours before
helps numb the needle's entry.
His winter hat with “FUCK YOU”
on the back. Clean, blue gloves
pour ink in tiny, sterile plastic.
I follow his blue eyes, his grey
chin hairs I stroke in my mind.
Came in three hours ago,
turned the heat on for you, he says.
I'm hot, flushed below my inked flower,
near my husband's touch
the night before.
I laugh, green-needle drone cutting,
shading, skin beneath skin
until the lidocaine wears off.
He asks if it hurts.
Excruciating, I think.
This is it for me. I say.
Last time in this place.
He rattles my dark fantasy,
loudly snaps the latex off his hands,
says, Maybe I'll see ya
not for a tattoo.
My husband's trust along my thighs,
his goodness in every
colored cut below my heart.
Holly Rose: my parents love,
my own reminder of loyalty I'll wear
with chance of only fading.
but leave the noise behind.