Constellations

Constellations

“Covered in Tattoos” is the wrong way to describe it. When she lies naked on a bed of junk mail, sleeping with her back to you; with the moonlight creeping through the shutters like a home invader tiptoeing into the kitchen; there is still plenty of bare skin pushing that moonlight back to your eyes, drawing your gaze to it as well. Hypnotic. Silent. Desperate. Pale, soft, and the flavor of gin and lavender. Just the same, if you were so inclined, you could read and trace the lines of blue, green, and red ink until the sun came up, and never wake her to turn around.

A hundred billion stars are not enough; they’re all too far away. What we need is one sun, and a giant, floating rock to act as a mirror. Just like that, we have reading light in an otherwise blackened sky. A single candle’s flame in an otherwise empty cave, and we can paint nightmares on the walls for future generations to weep in empathy. Every mark, every candle, every star; and we forget the canvas; the sky; the cave; the skin.

To say she was always sad isn’t fair either. She laughs enough to make you want to dance inside her voice, but then she doesn’t; and often enough to make you wonder why. There’s a good chance it’s like that spot on the side of her hip; the one that somehow escaped the needle so far. Not in a single session, but in one attack of piercing, pulsing intrusion after another, this patch of flesh fought, and won; defended territory from the invasion of an inside job. That space, the curve connecting what she can see from what she can’t, has somehow fought for being visible. Like the moments between laughing and crying. Like the black space between planets and stars. Like the distance between her skin and your eyes. Somehow remaining unnoticed for the spotted presence of something else.

Constellations are man’s attempt at filling in the space between the lights. Our brains see patterns where there are only interruptions in the complete lack thereof. We tie fractals together from the appearance of repetition. We stare at a blackened sky, see in two dimensions what we know to exist in three, and we claim to see something else entirely. We claim to see ourselves; or at least, versions of ourselves. We tell mythical stories of how we became the stars before we discovered it was really the other way around. We are stars in our own pitch of midnight. Stardust in a fractal pattern of cells, each filling the space between. We are tiny, multi-dimensional moons, reflecting the light of each other to each other. We are the canvas, the candle, and the constellation.

It’s not as though the ink is interesting. The patterns she paid to have permanently penned to her flesh are no prettier than the ones she with which she was born, and chose to have covered up. The space between that random freckle and the next visible pore. The tiny scar she got while shaving that just never went away. The birth mark; the mole; the tiny patch of fuzz. Angels live and die in the spaces between. Rhythm is about mastering silence, and interrupting it strategically. It’s the human experience to miss the silence entirely without these interruptions.
“Wake up.” You say. “There’s something you have to see.”