Comfort of a Whole Truth
when I told my grandparents
that I got my tattoo,
my grandfather told me
he was disappointed.
He’d repeated the words,
“You got a tattoo,” in a voice
that sounded like a half-laugh,
like he didn’t believe I was serious.
My grandfather has always said
that he knows I will never lie to him,
and this is true; why else
would I choose to tell him a truth
that he doesn’t need to know?
Because an untold truth
looks too similar to a lie
for me to feel comfortable.
I’d rather enjoy my grandparents’
I try to explain the thing to him,
and he protests and says he doesn’t care
and I say,
“But I do. And this is important to me
so it should be important to you, too.
I don’t need you to approve,
I just want you to understand.
And I know this will never mean
the same thing to you as it does to me,
but I want you to realise
what that meaning is.”
And he stops moaning for a minute,
and I tell him the story of the tattoo.
I tell him that I’d written the phrase
five long years ago,
and that through everything I’d been through
it had stayed with me.
Two years ago I’d wanted it
but he’d persuaded me not to get it then
and I realised now that then he had been right.
I was not ready; my mantra
would have meant nothing more than
to serve as a reminder of my own
So I waited. Cracked organs
and lost parts of myself we should never
have to lose, but I got through.
I swelled. I grew. I became a
cacophony; an orchestra completely
in tune and I knew it was more truth
than lie. More honest than hypocritical.
I don’t know if he truly understood,
but he told me,
“Georgia, it’s your body,”
as if he truly knew
anything about autonomy.
Today he got over his disappointment.
Instead he said that I was like a sailor
travelling port-to port and I said,
“Yeah, one port of life to another.
What better way to remember
what I’ve seen and
where I’ve been
than to write down the words,
or take a picture?”