Of the four tattoos honoring my grandparents, three are complete:
A pawn for Arkie
(he taught me how to play chess)
A blue mixer for Myra
(her recipes for bulkes and custard biscuits have been passed to all her grandchildren)
A purple planet—Saturn—for John
(he worked at NASA, and had a tenuous relationship with Judaism)
((Post-tattoo I learned that Saturn is problematized as a Jewish planet))
No image for Maureen, yet
Perhaps it will be a book—she was a librarian.
Each of these memories is tattooed on the back of my upper arms:
The matrilineal and patrilineal elders on the right and left respectively.
Four ancestors, four guides, reminiscent of four angels offering nighttime protection:
“To my right is Michael, to my left
is Gavriel /
In front of me Uriel, and behind
me Rafael /
And all around, surrounding me,
Four angels, one in each direction, and the encircling spirit of the Divine.
These angels represent wonder, strength, light, and healing.
My ancestors offer encircling protection too:
nourishment from Myra
wisdom from Arkie
curiosity from John
gentle chutzpah from Maureen.
My tattoos envelop me in ancestral connection.