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.

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