The Paris Review

On the Eve of My Eternal Marking

Photo courtesy of the author.

My son wants to know why flies are even a thing; he wants to know why bugs are even a thing. They bother him. I get it. I, too, have his sensitivities. On the other side of the world, where our real lives reside, Chicago winters coerce living things to slumber or die—not so here, in Thailand, where life announces itself in its full verdancy and fecundity, unending, its tight and insistent tendrils ever unfurling.

Tomorrow, I will receive the sacred blessing of a , a talismanic, ancient, protective, and mystical stick-and-poke tattoo from . This, however, was not a decision I made for myself: my mother said she had a premonition; it was overwhelming. She told me I needed this tattoo for protection. Such tattoos are simply part of Thai culture, especially as it is lived by the peasant class, a class that, without power or money or resources, depends on luck and superstition to bank their hopes and dreams and. Superstition or no, my mother says I need the protection. And soon.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review10 min read
Unmapped
Surveyor’s map of the Orangedale subdivision, New Orleans East, 1949. From high up, fifteen thousand feet above, where the aerial photographs are taken, 4121 Wilson Avenue, the address I know best, is a minuscule point, a scab of green. In satellite
The Paris Review13 min read
Dislocated Realities: A Conversation between Helen Phillips and Laura Van Den Berg
Helen Phillips (left) and Laura Van Den berg (right) When an early copy of Helen Phillips’s new novel, The Need, turned up at my apartment, I had not read a book in two months. I had been unable to read, in fact. My father had died recently and each
The Paris Review4 min readPolitics
Two Revolutions
Martin Puryear’s “Liberty/Libertà,” an exhibition featuring significant new sculptures in the artist’s oeuvre, is the United States’ official contribution to the ongoing 2019 Venice Biennale. The following essay appears in the catalogue accompanying