Kyla Wilson

Pretty Pain

A mountain scene: snowcaps, pine trees, and all. Somewhere overhead, a UFO hovers. Thick black lines covering my left thigh.

A yellow sun below the crook of my elbow. A quarter-sized sunshine to keep me warm beneath the Pacific Northwest gloom.

On my left wrist: a bouquet of lavender flowers and a teaspoon. Lavender quells anxiety, you know. 

A line from a poem I wrote etched into my side over the constellation Aquarius. My own words laid over the stars I was born under. My skin is aglow like it has constellations beneath it.

The alchemical symbol for Mercury, shakily stick-and-poked into my upper thigh at midnight with calligraphy ink and an embroidery needle. An ill-advised do-it-yourself venture.

“Didn’t all those tattoos hurt?” ask well-meaning friends. Beneath their question is another: “Aren’t you already in enough pain as is?” The funny thing about having a neurological disorder is that it makes people think you are made of paper and glass, easily crumpled, easily shattered. I wonder if the people who ask this truly care to know the reason I find myself in a tattoo artist’s chair over 
                                and over 
                                                        and over again. 
They want a pretty answer. One that makes them feel good inside. An “Oh, I barely felt any of them” or a “Just felt like a bee sting.” 

The truth: it’s the one time I’m in control of the pain. 

Another truth: there’s something beautiful at the end of this pain. 

Kyla Wilson is a fiction writer and poet who explores trauma, disability and illness, and queerness in their work. She worked as the Managing Editor of The Silk Road Review in her time at Pacific University. They are Idaho born-and-raised, but somehow fell in love with Oregon and found something of a second home in the greater Portland area. She has a BA in Creative Writing and an Editing and Publishing minor.