I chose to cover the tattoo I got for him with a poppy. A big, red, opium-producing poppy. Wikipedia told me that poppies were symbols of remembrance. I knew I could never forget. I saved up the $400 from my pay checks at the makeup store while I researched the best artist. When I made an appointment and came in for the consultation, he told me the cover-up would be difficult. The tattoo was all black and extremely well-done to boot. So, he would have to put it under a leaf. “No one else will be able to see it, but you will always know it was there,” he told me.
The artist was a big white man with full sleeves and gauged ear lobes. We smoked the same cigarettes and listened to the same, old-ish rock and roll. He printed photographs of poppies off of the internet and then free-handed an outline in highlighter onto my back. I gave him the go-ahead and he started to outline it in black. It would two more hours-long sessions to fill it in. It would take months for it to properly heal. But I would never forget— that underneath of that euphoria-producing poppy, underneath it’s thorns and bright green leaves, was his mark, his rings, his promises. When I look in the mirror, I can see them— dark and obscured, a turn of the light, but they are there nonetheless.