Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weeping Ink

I'm in LA to read for the Poetry Society in about an hour. The delightful Rob Caspar took me to a terrific Mexican restaurant near downtown called Chichen Itza, and the food was delicate and arresting, but I have to say the most fascinating thing (aside from Rob's very good company) was the waiter, a trim Latin guy in his 30s with a chiseled face and a sweet yet slightly distant demeanor and, just beneath his left eye, a tattooed tear. I couldn't take my eyes off the tear. I managed to be attentive both to Rob and to ordering and eating lunch, but my gaze was hostaged, every time that beautiful blue tear floated anywhere near our table.

7 comments:

galincal said...

Doesn't that signify having spent time in prison....or having murdered someone...or being in a gang...or all three?

Mark Doty said...

I was thinking it was a memorial for someone who'd died... but hey, I probably need some street culture education.

Elizabeth said...

I believe it's for murdering someone. Hmmmm. Thanks for a wonderful reading, Mark -- and your comments and wise words were much appreciated!

lu said...

We are taught in school that the tear under the eye originally meant that one had served time, but it's become a generic gang tat over time. I guess the most we can take from it is that this person needs to assert that they belong, somewhere. The fact that it's associated with such institutionalized violence always makes me sorry for the lack of family and hope. The kids i work with are covered in tats -- make up and costumes that they buy into The false hope that a bad ass rap is something real and capable of changing their status.

Nancy Devine said...

imagine getting that tear tattoed.
lu said it well....lots of makeup and costumes and tats to look "bad ass" in school.

Chad said...

Though Mark's memorial comment could be accurate. Chicago Bulls guard Larry Hughes brother sports one for his brother that died from a heart defect.

http://www.fanhouse.com/2007/05/16/larry-hughes-is-no-killer/

octopod said...

There's a different thing that means you killed someone -- Mark's right. In California, at least, it's for a sibling or very close friend who died. Sometimes only for one who died violently, but that's less adhered to. Not the kind of code one can expect recently bereaved people to closely observe, I suppose.