Mara B., a friend of mine through the now defunct Red Room writers’ site (which I still miss, but I digress), suggested that she’d like to read a short-short of an event described in a poem I penned a couple years ago. That she believed it could be just as, if not more effective, as flash fiction. Frankly, she is the person I consider a master of the genre, describing in exquisite, tight prose a person or event. I finally present it now, with trepidation. I only hope that I have succeeded in my attempt.
Waiting in the Auckland airport for our return flight home, I was sitting by myself minding our luggage as Rob was briefly away.
A few seats down sat a dark-haired, twenty-something male sporting a tattoo that completely covered his left bicep. An obviously new tattoo as the ink was black and clearly delineated with a greasy ointment. The fact was he was picking at it as if it were itchy and irritated, too, yet there was a satisfied expression being manifested by his body language.
As a general rule, I am not particularly impressed with tattoos as there is little that I would want engraved upon my person permanently, but I have to admit that this tattoo caught my eye with its Maori-like swirls, yet also reminiscent of a Celtic knot.
To look or not? To speak or not? I chose to look; I chose to speak. “Fresh ink?” I asked, and he nodded, shoving his sleeve of his white t-shirt up to his shoulder, showing it off further.
“It’s the souvenir of my trip,” the dark brown-eyed youth said. The pride in his voice was obvious, and smiling, he allowed me a closer look. I could see that it was not his only inking as there was a small, less visible tattoo on the skin of wrist, but this one was the one upon which I was focused.
“Very cool, truly nice,” I said, and it was true. I could believe it was the souvenir of his trip as this tattoo would have been really expensive. Moreover, it was the kind of tattoo I could understand as I had traveled this land for two weeks. I realized the power of the land of the Maori with their ritual tattooing, each one designed by the village chief to symbolize both paternal and maternal families, their haka, a war-like dance even performed by the national rugby team, the fairness-for-all doctrine that ruled throughout the country, and the pride of every citizen who had even one drop of Maori blood, to change a person. I know the marks are invisible, but I too was ritually tattooed, never to forget this land and its people.