Just as poetry is a permanent mark of feelings that last forever on paper, tattoos are permanent symbols that last forever on the skin. Tattoos and poetry can easily be combined such as in Kim Addonizio’s sonnet, “First Poem for You,” the speaker admires her partner’s nature themed tattoos in a darkened room. This may seem to be a simple poem, but by utilizing tattoos as symbols, including tactile and visual imagery in her poem, and using the sonnet as her structure, Addonizio laments about the true meaning of relationships and their longevity.
Symbols are used throughout Addonizio’s sonnet. “I like to touch your tattoos in complete/darkness, when I can’t see them (1-2).” The darkness not only represents the lack of light in the room, but it also represents the speaker’s perspective on the relationship. The speaker is concerned about her relationship with her partner, “whatever persists or turns to pain between us, they will still / be there (11-12).” The tattoos, unlike the lover, are permanent. The speaker seems to be much more afraid of her partner than the tattoos. Her lover can change his feelings for her anytime; the tattoos, however, will never change. In this poem, the tattoos of the partner represent permanence and a happy long relationship.
Addonizio also imports excellent examples of tactile as well as visual imagery to demonstrate to the reader her aspect on relationships. Visual imagery is represented when Addonizio describes each individual tattoo. “The blue / swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent / twists, facing a dragon (5-7).” The dragon and the serpent represent the warrior in the speaker’s partner. They also signify that the partner has no fear against his enemies. Inclusion of the specific details of each tattoo shows the reader exactly how much that the speaker is honed in on her partner’s tattoos. This allows the reader to see the speaker softly tracing her fingers across her lover’s marked shoulder....
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