Tattoo Destiny

In modern Ireland
The Morrigan runs a tattoo joint
Where she inks and pierces
Affluent young flesh,
And grins as she digs the needle in.

Her incisors are capped
With cursive silver spirals.
“Wicked”, her clients groan,
When her lip curls back
As she draws blood.

She never speaks.
Merely nods at the designs,
Or ignores them completely,
To puncture skin
As she desires.

Those who recline
In the worn leather chair
Swear the swirling scenes
Carved on her muscled arms
Flow like film as she works:

Storm-borne ravens hover
Over fields of carnage
Where armies, champions, lovers,
In eternal war;

A dark woman
In a flapping feathered cloak
Oversees ruin and triumph
In splendour
From her high fort.

At night she haunts clubs,
Sits in a shadowed corner
Whiskey in hand
And watches her potentials
Gyrate and churn.

She does not consort
With bright young mortals.
They would extinguish –
Ecstatic –
With a kiss.

They are canvases
For her Art.
Across their contours
She maps lines of fortune,
And vortices of fate.

Her skin spells
And pierced patterns
Invoke a future
Where she reigns anew:
Mighty; dreadful; revered.

Until then she pays rent,
Taxes and utilities,
And recalls Empire,
As she inscribes her destiny
In blood.

Maura McHugh
First published in Jabberwocky, issue 3.