Burned Upon Her Skin

writing

I wrote a poem a few weeks ago, about my girlfriend, and her love of the woods. She and I have been enjoying this brief Autumn season, and escaping to the nearby hiking trails as often as the weather and our schedules allow — sometimes together, sometimes separately, chasing light and shadows, solitude and mental health. I posted more recently about how that is affecting my personal journey, in a post titled “The Way of Beauty”.

I’ve been sharing poetry with this amazing woman since we started dating, two months ago. I’ve introduced her to my favorites, like Tyler Knott GregsonBilly Collins, and Rives. She seems to love my addiction to language, and to not mind that I write poetry about my love for her.

In fact, a little over a week ago, she was planning a trip home to visit family (and her tattoo artist) and asked me how I felt about her incorporating some of my poetry into a tattoo. My immediate response was, “Of course! Once I share my poems, they belong to whoever reads them!”  She didn’t tell me which poem; she wanted to keep that a surprise, so no photos or hints until I picked her up from the airport on Sunday.

She’d been gone for four days, and when I met her in the waiting area just outside the terminal, I was breathless, struck by how amazing she looked in my favorite black shirt and some new plaid suspenders. I couldn’t stop  hugging and kissing her — and more than once I caught random strangers smiling at us.

I didn’t see the tattoo on her arm until she was loading her suitcase into my car, and though I expected to love it, I didn’t anticipate the feelings that washed over me. My throat constricted on the word, “Oh!” and my eyes welled up with tears. My words, spilled for her from my own pen, were etched into her beautiful skin, so she could see them for the rest of her life. I couldn’t stop touching them, tracing the letters with my fingers. I’ve been lucky enough to have my work published before, but I don’t think I will ever feel the way I felt standing there, reading her arm.

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The fantastic thing, is that the words are hers. They belong to her — belong on her body. They fit, and always will. That’s what happens when we send our words out into the world. Those who read them make them their own, bring them to life. They are made richer, deeper, and more breathtaking. It’s a thing that always amazes me about writing poetry. What a wild, wonderful privilege it is to witness!

 

The poem in its entirety, is posted below. I hope you find something in it, gentle reader, that speaks to you, and as always, I thank you for doing your part, reading my words, and making them live.

———-

wolvesrunning

THE WOODS ARE WHERE YOU’VE BEEN

The scent of wind is burned upon your skin —
You’ve run with wolves, while howling at the night,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

I know the weight of life has worn you thin —
Within your eyes a hunger burns so bright,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I hear the echoes of your howls again —
I hope that you’ve been strengthened by your flight.
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

You look at me, and my head starts to spin —
I find my thoughts are rude and impolite!
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I can’t control this flood I’m holding in —
I ache to break for you, to scream and fight,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

The smell of you turns all my flesh to sin —
till every touch becomes a sacred rite,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

———-

POETIC FORM:

The villanelle is a French form, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain with line lengths of 8-10 syllables. The first and third lines of the first stanza become refrains that repeat throughout the poem.

FORM DIAGRAM:

A(1)
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
a
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
a
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
A(2)

 

 

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