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I Don't Want You Tattooed

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Mountain arm band tattoo

I don’t want you tattooed on my arm

Not a new one, not for this

I’ve already got one

On my left forearm

The outline of you and two others that we grooved through the backcountry with over 89 days

Long enough to know enough

Laughter carried through the wind

Love layered as deep as the snow we traversed over

Through the trees I snapped the line of you making your way up to ski down

My favorite photograph

A reminder of where it all started

When I began to remember being alive

Laying next to me you’d outline the forest with your fingers

Those strong climber hands

And tease me about having you tattooed on me

I would never admit it was you

But I secretly loved the fact that it was

You were the most important person in my life

In some chapters I told you that

In some chapters you told me that

In others I held back

Both of us so cautious of commitment

But it was always true

Today I sat in that tattoo chair

I called you a friend

That’s it, a friend

I had to be still while her hand pressed the needle into fine lines

And if I had called you anything else it would have trembled throughout my body

I put my arm holding that photograph against my belly

And focused on the rise and the fall

For 5 hours

While she etched in a silhouette of you

This time definitely you

Leaning your right arm against a trekking pole

Long pants hiked slightly up past your ankles

Backpack on

Hood pulled over I presume a Cavaliers ball cap

Looking out to the mountains

I picked the two where I felt you the most

Denali - On the day you died I saw her fading into a sunset pink riding home from the frozen river where the Iditarod mushers headed North

A part of you sits on her summit now

Colonial Peak - where you had your final climb, your final breath

Where I danced with your ghost

And learned that in honoring your death I have my life

And a river

To let go

I didn’t want to get you tattooed today

Because I want you to still be here

But how could I not

When I can hear your stoke about the new ink

And feel your finger trace around the band that now wraps my right forearm

You’re everywhere, but I sometimes I’ll need the reminder

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