Carla M. Lee (carlamlee) wrote,
Carla M. Lee

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[life] tattoos and poetry and constellations

I've wanted a new tattoo for awhile now. (Pretty much since I got the last one, which is standard for me.) I've been thinking for awhile that I want to get another constellation on my leg; for those who don't know, I have Canis Major on my right calf, starting close to the knee. I was thinking about getting Orion, but I've also had thoughts about a character who has Canis Major and Orion tattooed on her forearm; when another character asks her about it (she's a new werewolf and he's trying to decide if he will help her learn to control it or if he'll instead try to kill her), it becomes clear that she sees herself as the Hunting Hound, the weapon, and her brother is the Hunter, the one who points her and sends her to fight. (She and her siblings hunt monsters, but she and her brother are the oldest by quite a few years and are the closest because they've been taking care of the others for so long. Now that she is one of the monsters - quite literally, the hunting hound - things are changing.)

So writing ramble aside, I wasn't sure if I wanted to so exactly have the same tattoos I'm giving a character. Then I saw this poem that musesfool posted.

"The Astronomer and the Poet"

1. Why I stargaze

We share ninety-eight percent of our genetic code
with rats. Over half with grain. The stars, then,
must contain us somehow in their burning.

Something must contain this burning. Uptown,
our physics building is sequestered in a bubble
of certainty. And Harlem explodes around it.

We gaze because we're so small, despite
our need for choosing. We look skyward
to leave the best question hanging—why

an amazing woman is always amazing, even
with her head in her hands. It's true; there is no
way to know how small we are, or large.

2. Why I study the text

There is the same assurance in the open
page as in the open fist: closure
must happen eventually.

In the open-ended argument we find
one truth. This is all of us, we are so large
that another person's story can lacquer the soft

wood of history. We are so like the weed,
so like the blade of grass that our organic parable
is biblical. There is no need to believe in us.

I believe what is written: that a wind lifted
from a bay in Asia can travel a long and haunted
journey to touch his face, to slip through my fingers

and loose a lock of hair from my forehead
as it sinks into my tired palms. I believe in
the inevitable. We read the texts closely

because we are so large that the answers locked
in our most sacred physiology are not our own.
They are buried in the skin we choose to reach for.

3. How they are logical

He knows how things work. This moves her.
This is what makes her perpetually
move. On his desk, a Newton's Cradle—
silver balls always in motion. She will make
the long trip uptown and back again and again
to sit with him. She cannot understand how

we relate to stars, but she finds clues in small things,
the mark a fingertip will leave on every object, the fine
film of breath slicking surfaces. We are so large

there is something of ourselves in everything we touch.
They talk for hours. He speaks of lenses and women
and beyond. She is full of ink and bindings, the unknowable

we find in form, in limit. She reaches for his papers soaked
in symbol, gauging the weight of planets. He fingers
the square notebook she carries. They leave a trail of skin,

a path for them to follow to each other. Always,
her voice reaches him and he is lifted. Returns to her
again. She listens, and is lifted. Crashes back.

4. How they are illogical

Imagine a corner so large that being backed into it
does not mean an ending, but the beginning of a journey
toward the wall, toward the place where walls meet.

Sometimes it is impossible to know how things work.
If there is perpetual motion why does he lie so still
sometimes, why does she become hard and unmoved?

They lay their bodies down inside a telescope so large
it's like a tunnel—observers, if permitted, would see the planets
of their bodies orbiting. It is the only motion they both understand.

~Jessica Piazza (from Spork)

I really, really like this part:

The stars, then,
must contain us somehow in their burning.

I think I want that tattooed on my leg, too, and a sky of constellations around it. So maybe I will get Orion. This year I've loved finding them together in the sky; it's easiest to find Orion's belt and then find my hound.

(Part of why I got Canis Major is that I do sometimes feel like the hunting hound, guided by a few specific people I trust. I could be a leader, but I don't really want to be one; I mostly lead when I don't think things are being done right, or enough is being done, or whatever, and it looks like if I don't do it no one will. Instead I'm the weapon that comes out when needed. I got it right before I went to law school because becoming a lawyer felt like another part of that; I am a tool for the client to use. I mean this in a really positive way, even if it doesn't sound like it.)

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