Reena’s Exploration Challenge #80 — The Illustrated Woman

Reena is the host of Reena’s Exploration Challenge. Reena says:

Without much ado, I present this week’s challenge, as posting has already been delayed a little.
Exploration Challenge #80
There is no restriction on the length or format of the piece. Write a post on your blog, and link it up here with a pingback, or copy-paste the blog link in Comments.
I eagerly await your responses.


The Illustrated Woman

There is a novel by Ray Bradbury called, “The Illustrated Man,” about a man who is covered in tattooes. Each tattoo represents a story in his life. They made a movie based on the novel, where Rod Steiger was the well-muscled story carrier. I saw the movie as a child and was quite intimidated by Steiger’s presence, and not just his physical presence. It was almost as if he himself was a story within the story.

In my mind, I see a woman standing with the same presence.

Her body is large. Her scars are many. The one above her eye is from a spoon, hurled by a younger brother she was teasing. One on her chin is when a neighbor boy hurled a horseshoe at her. Another on her chin is when she ran over a fallen hump on the willow limb near the pond and slipped. One on her knee is from a slipped chain on a bicycle that was much too large for the small body pedaling. The one along her shin is from trying to shave her young legs with her stepfather’s razor. The one on her kneecap is when the limb, holding the swing she and her friend were on (holding her friend’s baby) cracked and fell towards them; the limb missed the baby but the bolt holding the cable to the limb entered her joint capsule. One on her left arm is from a smallpox vaccine. Another is where a mole was removed for biopsy.

Then there are the scars I can’t see but learn by her telling. The patchwork heart that’s been wounded and stitched up like Raggedy Ann. The trust bunny whose remains are preserved under glass. Her self-esteem, a stone that has been worn thin through innumerable drops of etcher; yet sustained with the milk of human kindness. The soul, crystalline, adorned with a likeness of wolf’s eyelash, held deep within.

Regarding her, our

eyes lock, fuse into each others’.

I see she is me.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Reena Saxena says:

    The last para and the capping piece of poetry took my breath away. This is the best piece from you which I’ve read (I’m sure there are many more).

    Thank you, Jade!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Reena, your kind words are appreciated. I’m glad you connected with it. You are very welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. msjadeli says:

      p.s. Thank you for your awesome prompts each week. I look forward to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Russians tattoo their bodies with the stories of their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I like the idea of that. I think a lot of cultures include meaningful tattooing. I wonder if there are any books out there on it? I know I love the TV shoes like Miami Ink and Ink Master, where the “canvas” talks about what the tattoo they are getting means to them.

      Liked by 1 person

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