A Gift

He says “It’s your birthday tomorrow.
What’s your favorite flower?
You do want a flower?”
I do want a flower, but ask
“What about your tattoo—
what do you want and
where do you want it?”
Eldest daughter “Taylor”
already is tattooed
on his left shoulder,
next-in-line “Zoe” plus
her handprint on his right,
younger daughter “Zion”
on his right forearm
and on his chest the youngest,
son Maximus Rex
under the motto
“Familia ante Omni”.

He is my adopted son,
and will treat me
to a birthday tattoo, my first.
In past years I’d said
tattoos were a ”turn off”;
then seven years a widow
a man with five tattoos
“turned me on”—
Rene’ Magritte’s
surrealist “This is not a pipe”
and his “Philosophy in the Bedroom”
were on his chest and left biceps.
Now I want a tattoo–
one “moonbeam coreopsis”
near my navel.

It’s a sunny day in Georgetown
We wait with others
in the tattoo shop lobby.
My own drawing
of a small yellow flower
in hand, I browse other designs.
but my decision remains unchanged.
Our turn. Me first,
in the reclining chair.
He sits beside me, holds my hand.
The artist, ink and needle
do their work.

Now it’s his turn.
He doesn’t need me
to hold his hand
while a nautical star is
inked into his skin.
When we walk out
into the Georgetown sun
I do think this:
The family that tattoos together
stays together.

Marguerite Beck-Rex ©2013


About inkpaintwords

A feminist writer and artist with a penchant for all things French, living in Washington DC. My love of language led me, indirectly, to my pleasure in gardening, drawing and watercolor. It began with a book, a collection of New Yorker garden columns by Katherine White, wife of its founding editor E.B.White. Her enthusiastic appraisal of the literary merit of various garden catalogs led me to collect and keep her favorites as well as to hoard with them some more recently-emerged seed, bulb and seed catalogs. The beautiful catalogs inspired me to little by little turn our entire front lawn (our home had a wooded ravine close behind) into a garden. That grew into a lovely site with two simple arches, a gliding bench on a little sitting patio and modest slate paths winding through beds of shade lovers and whatever plants supposedly in need of full sun that I could manage to coax into colorful healthy bloom. A curiosity about color and color theory emerged as I became keenly interested in impressionist painters; that interest merged in some way with my urge to garden. I acquired more than one book about Monet’s garden and gardens of other impressionist painters, both French and American. One day I picked up a magazine for painters, and found inside an article about a painter I’d known. Among examples of her splendid watercolor paintings was her watercolor of her garden at that time. Suddenly I could think of nothing more exciting than painting my garden. I enrolled in her watercolor class in The Art League in Alexandria, VA. The influence that the collection of Katherine White’s columns about the literary merits of certain garden catalogs has had on my life has come full now. Ink, Paint & Words combines what has become an obsession with drawing and watercolor with my passion for language. Yes, I still garden. A table full of blooming potted plants sits on my apartment patio, backed by an ivy covered fence with park trees behind. My patio, and my larger environment of Washington DC, together provides wonderful vistas for drawing and painting. For a number of years annual trips to France gave me and my companions extravagantly colorful panoramas and charming tableaux for brush and pen. And yes, now I’ve painted in Monet’s gardens several times. But that, as they say, is another story.
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