Tattoo It On My Skin


Shame on me for not reading a Mary Oliver poem before!  Here she’s been all along, and I didn’t even know it.  Maria Shriver interviewed Mary Oliver for Oprah:  It’s a great article.  This quote particularly intrigued me:

Mary Oliver: … Poets these days don’t seem to know much about mechanics. Donald Hall says a poem has two lives—there is the statement that you’re making, and there is the poem’s sensual body. The words you use, the layout… I’m fascinated by that.

Yes, to the sensual body of the poem as well as the meaning.  I like the idea of the poem having a body, particularly a sensual body.

Shriver is especially inspired by one poem, The Journey, which you can view online in its entirety at .

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

I will go further than Maria Shriver with her devotion to The Journey, which she keeps in a frame on her desk.  I will tattoo it on my skin.  Burn it into my flesh.  Wear it like an evening gown.  It will improve my posture.  Straighten my bowing spine.  Make me dance with greater grace and confidence.  It will be what I reach for in the water when my ship goes down – the thing that will keep me from drowning.  I will float joyfully, buoyed up by my own breath and the surprising strength of my much scarred, dear, tattooed flesh.


Clare, thanks for steadily feeding me things to make me go, hum, question myself, my writing, my living.


About Julie Ayers

Seasoned apocaloptimist, keen admirer of well-placed words, fierce mama bear of extra special children, black belt hugger, and advocate for a fashion rebellion which elevates the most human of hearts to socially acceptable outerwear.

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