December 15, 2017

The Tattoo

My Totemic Eagle Tattoo

The tattoo lay there on his arm, seemingly benign and burning only lightly so soon after being implanted in the skin. It was a pure work of art and he couldn’t help but admire the sweep of its lines encompassing the powerful totemic eagle shape it had become under the artist’s deft touch with his needles.

His wife’s bold artistic efforts had come to life on the flesh of his arm, and he was deeply moved that she had given the design to him as both a gift of her own heart, and as an emblem of his native clan to be worn proudly and with honor.

He gently spread another layer of the prescribed ointment on it to help keep it moisturized and free of infection. This same ritual was repeated and carried out religiously for the next two days.

It was the harsh flame of the burning from the tattoo that woke him up abruptly the third night. Rising to go check it out in the bathroom light he saw how the swelling had begun to raise the entire area of it up from the surrounding tissue and knew this to be trouble of the worst kind. If it got out of hand he could lose it all to the infection which had suddenly invaded it, never mind the potential threat to his own health.

The pills didn’t even seem to be helping for the first week, as the entire tattoo continued to raise up in height on his arm until it stood a full quarter inch or more high in all of its dimensions. It had morphed itself into a macabre yet genuine piece of 3-D art, glowing and throbbing in the fever of the infection which had overcome it and the darkness of the black and red inks used to create it.

The local nurses at the health station even took color pictures of it for the record, astonished at a sight the likes of which they’d never seen in all the years of their collective experience. They too thought the tattoo would likely be a goner to the infection bleeding all the color out of it by the time it had run its course.

Turned out they were wrong about that…everybody was.

The tattoo survived. A little faded in the brilliance of its blacks and reds, and shot throughout its length and breadth by random tracings and patterns of white where the color had in fact been pulled from it; but the overall effect left it with an ancient patina and appearance that in the end made it look like this was the effect which had been scripted from the start.

He couldn’t have been happier with those end results.

He’d seen the eagle rise up from his skin in the heat of its fire as though to take flight from it during those many days of illness inside it, but then had watched it settle gracefully back down to rest meaningfully once again within the pores of his skin on which it was now willingly perched.

The eagle continues to flex his body and folded wings within the tattoo to this day, as the muscles of the arm ripple and move to the subtle rhythms of their own powerful song of life that restored it to health.

If you’ve enjoyed this true tale told about the tattoo I carry on my arm, be sure to leave your comments in the box below. I’d like to hear them.


  1. Thanks for being on point and on taetrg!

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