Describing Tattoos to a Cop

After Ed Sanders

We’d been squatting     near the worms
            in the White House lawn, protesting
the Keystone Pipeline =$=$=$=$=$=$=>>;
            i could sense      the dear worms
   through    the grillwork fence,
            twists & coils   of flexi-script, remaking
the soil    by resisting it    ...    
                           After the ride in the police van
             telling jokes, our ziplocked handcuffs
pretty tight,
                      when the presiding officer asked:

— Do you have any tattoos?
— Yes, officer, i have two.
— What are they?
— Well, i have a black heart on my inner thigh & 
             an alchemical sign on my ankle.
— Please spell that?
— Alchemical. A-L-C-H-E-M-I-C-A-L.
— What is that?
— It’s basically a moon, a lily, a star & a flame.

He started printing in the little square


Young white guy, seemed scared. One blurry
      tattoo on his inner wrist    ...     i should have asked
            about his, but couldn’t
 cross that chasm.     Outside,   Ash
Wednesday in our nation’s capital.     Dead
               grass, spring trees
about to burst, two officers
           beside the newish van. Inside,
              alchemical notes for the next time —
More Poems by Brenda Hillman