My Student Stares at my Semicolon Tattoo

My skirt is penciled—
my hair pinned back.

She is 17 and 18 and 19,
and I am pretending I know
what to teach her.

She marks her sentences
breathlessly— doesn’t remember
the comma rules.

I forget she can see
my punctuated skull—the otherwise naked
space between the hairline and the ear.

I hear her breath shift.
Wide-eyed, she is imagining
my life, and I am Odysseus,

discovered— Odysseus known
by the scar.

Like most small myths,
I did not choose this story.

I was branded
years before I knew
what this skin would be singing.

But in this in-between,
we are full
of something holy—
something violent—
and we are quiet
in our beautiful bodies.

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