I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t have anything against them. It’s just that no single image has ever stood out to me enough to ink into my skin. Besides, scars have always been life’s way of marking me with reminders of the periods and events in my life. My latest acquisition is two circular scars on my left side, one about an inch above the other.
The most recent trend in body art is the semi-colon—an outward sign of an inward struggle with depression or mental illness. Looking in the mirror now, I find meaning in my own markings. My left ribs bear a colon.
A colon, the internet tells me, is a punctuation mark “used mostly to call attention to what follows (as a list, explanation, or quotation).” Though I didn’t choose my newest decoration, I can’t help but ascribe meaning to it. A colon divides a sentence. It announces that a writer is introducing something different, that a new clause is coming. Everything up to the colon has been a prelude, an introduction. The meat of the matter—the colon declares—is here.
I may be a hole short of a three-hole punch, but I’m fond of my new punctuation mark. Like an unwary breakfaster discovering the image of the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast, I choose to find meaning in a world that seems mad. Everything up to here has been leading up to what comes next, my ribs proclaim.
And what is that? To tell the truth, I’m not sure yet. But I do know one thing: the day I get out of this hospital I’m gonna find the rat bastard that shot me in the side.
Isaac Buckley lives in the Mississippi Delta, where he spends his time fishing, listening to blues music, and failing to provide his parents with grandchildren. Email: isaackbuckley[at]gmail.com