Chris Shugrue’s “habitat is”

“Habitat is … the prophet says.  I came to the Boulder Tattoo Project late, requesting a phrase after they’d all been taken. A few people, though, who’d received words were no longer available, ghosts now upon that road, so a call went out and words appeared for those waiting. When I saw ‘habitat is,’ I knew. The phrase struck me with possibility: the subject and verb absent of object opened a door into the infinite potential that could come if one wished to complete the sentence or not. Habitat is … my life. Habitat is … my journey. Habitat is …

I have the words of the prophets etched in skin: Rumi on the inside of my right forearm; Anne Waldman now on the inside of my left wrist, just below the palm of my hand:    habitat is … the words a call to remember where my heart lies: with my family, with my writing, with all that open space. Habitat is … Boulder, CO: a place I migrated from ancient eastern mountains to study words at the feet of masters. Habitat is … the bird I found here who saved my life. Habitat is … every word I’ve written, each phrase I’ve left behind for someone else to write. Habitat is … all the roads I’ve roamed, all that has been lost in the flood and found upon mountain peaks. Habitat is … those nights I swayed in the coliseum: dodging lions and wasting time. Habitat is … the birds I kept and the birds I set free.

And habitat is … a new journey begun with the loves of my life: a daughter calls me daddy, a wolf watches over me at night, and my fiancé, the exceptional writer, Elyse Brownell. She also participated in the project and has Waldman’s phrase ‘where poetry thrives’ on the inside of her right forearm. Now when we walk this earth in sun holding hands or lie entwined in each other’s arms at night under full moon, two phrases become one: ‘habitat is . . . where poetry thrives.’ And as we push out of the shadows and step away from ghosts that haunt, I can look down at my left wrist as that reminder—a piece of my heart etched in ink that connects me forever to her: the only one. I read ‘habitat is’ and I know I am home.

And finally:  habitat is … my twin, that other person out there who has the same words drawn in skin. Where are you, ghost twin? And have you found your home? Habitat is … the prophet says.”

Chris Shugrue

Chris Shugrue’s “habitat is”

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