Prix Laurence - Bettembourg Prix Laurence 2018 - Luxembourg

Prix Laurence 2018

Fonseca Marina - Tattoos Hurt



The first time I see my dad cry happens to be the best day of my life. I’m leaving. Finally. I packed my life into two suitcases and I’m ready to start a student life in the United States. But as I walk through security watching my father and the streams running down his cheeks, I wonder whether I am doing the right thing. How did I get here?

I’d guess it all started with my first tattoo. These two little stars decorating my collarbone were the first visual sign of my rebellion. What was I rebelling against? I’m not sure, really. There is no sad story about how terrible my childhood was. My parents didn’t get divorced, nor was I beaten up by my siblings. Actually, I’ve always had the best family, and my childhood was ridiculously happy. So what was my problem?

            The truth is I was bored. I was bored with my perfect family, my perfect house, my perfect life. I was in desperate need for adventure, for danger, for a new life. So as soon as I turned sixteen, right on track for the average teenage rebellion, I transformed myself into the black sheep a middle child is supposed to be. I bought ripped jeans, black ones; a System of a Down hoodie, a black one; Chucks, black ones; and dyed my hair, black. But I had to go a step further. Dark clothes were no sign of mutiny; they were a sign of a bad sense of fashion. So I got two black stars etched into my skin. Why stars? No idea. The motif didn’t really matter. What mattered was that black ink covered my stainless white flesh, forever marking me as a scoundrel, a rascal, a rebel. My parents were anything but pleased; my first step was a success.


            As I gather my belongings from the X-ray carousel, I take one last, wet look at my family. They are blurry, and I don’t know whether it is because there is a piece missing from the picture, me, or whether my contact lens just slipped from my eyeball from wiping away my tears. I wave goodbye one last time and my look lands on the scorpion on my wrist.

            I was eighteen by the time I got my second tattoo. Being a Scorpio, and finding it oddly fitting my unruly personality, I decided to get my sign drawn on my skin. I remembered reading that in some cultures scorpions are a symbol used to ward off demons and bad people, and I liked that idea.

            Since my first tattoo already marked me as an outcast and my clothes and raccoon eye make-up told people to stay the hell away from me, I thought it was time to make some new friends. But not just anybody would do; I had high standards, after all. My new friends would have to be considered a bad influence on me. They needed to be outcasts, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or weed, and stay out all night without telling their parents. And that’s how I became the girlfriend of a stoner.

            For the next couple of weeks I came home smelling like the ashtray of a hippie. My parents were furious. It was great. Until that idiot boyfriend of mine decided he really loved me and stopped smoking, because he knew that I hate the smell of cigarette smoke even more than my parents do. So obviously, I had to break up with him.

I looked for new bad influences and sure enough found some teenage alcoholics. That didn’t last long either, though, because those people had already soaked their brains in vodka and Red Bull, and the only thing I ever heard come out of their mouth was: “Oh, man, it was the best night ever. After an hour, I was so drunk I blacked out.” It really bothered me that every weekend contained three “best nights ever” and that nobody could ever tell me what had happened. I was imagining them stewing in spilled beer in some corner of the club.

            I was realizing more and more how annoying my bad influences were and even after I wasn’t seeking such people out anymore, it seemed that they were all I could find. They were everywhere; people who go on with their lives with no dreams and no ambition. The kinds of people who think that getting drunk or high every weekend makes up for the other five days of the week during which they feel absolutely nothing. I was not one of those people. I was not satisfied with good enough. And I didn’t want to surround myself with people who were. My hope was that the tail of my scorpion would sting as much as the tattoo needle digging into my dermis, and keep those demons away. My second tattoo marked the end of my active rebellion phase and the beginning of my silent insurgence.


            I let my arm drop heavily at my side and I start to saunter towards my gate. It takes all I have to not turn around and run back into my family’s arms.

I sit down next to an elderly man who looks at me like I’m about to rob him. He shifts uncomfortably in his seat as his eyes wander from my scorpion, to my stars and to my lip ring. I try to smile at him to let him know he doesn’t need to be afraid. I put my ear buds in and turn on my iPod, clicking on “next” over and over, matching the shuffling thoughts in my head, reflecting on the fact that I got seven more tattoos after I stopped being a brat.

            Tattooing was the only thing that remained of my rebel phase. It was the only thing that I couldn’t give up. I wanted to make my continuous discontent with my life visible even though I was living it without complaining. It wasn’t fair to rebel against my parents and make them suffer from my unhappiness. They gave me everything I could ever dream of; there was no reason to hurt them. But that realization didn’t keep me from wanting more.

I spent more time in tattoo studios, listening to the soft buzz of the needle bruising my skin. From every part of my body, words and drawings were silently screaming my desperate want and need to find something bigger than me, bigger than my family, bigger than my life. There was still nothing wrong with any of those things, but I couldn’t be satisfied. As I got the coordinates of my home written on my back, I was wordlessly preparing for the day that I would leave. Reminding everyone that “good” was not good enough for me, I had “Before this turns into ordinary let me touch the extraordinary” engraved forever into my skin. It was a rule I lived by.

            My father started getting into the habit of telling me how I tainted the originality of the body I was born with, the body he and my mother had created together. What he didn’t understand was that my body had only become a place I felt comfortable in after I started decorating it with my hopes and dreams, my experiences and memories. Sure, my body wasn’t pure anymore; it was scarred by childish choices and bad decisions; it was adorned with words and images that meant nothing to anybody but me. But it was mine—it was me. And it carried every part of me. In growing discomfort, my parents helplessly watched how black ink slowly engulfed greater parts of my body.


            Absentmindedly I get up from my seat; we’re about to board. I realize that this is my ultimate step of mutiny against my parents—I’m leaving them. While this thought is uncomfortably unsettling, I realize that it is also the last step. My tattoos had been leading up to this moment, quiet steps towards the revolution. Maybe my parents had felt it coming.


ageschéckt den: 17:36 Fri, 16 March 2018 vum: Fonseca Marina



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Kleng Lecture, déi Iech vläicht weiderbréngt:


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Die Liebesgeschichte zwischen
Ingeborg Bachmann und Paul Celan
DVA, 2017


-  Nemesis
Roman, rororo, 2018


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Stories, essays, poetry

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017

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Englisch - Deutsch, mit den Gedichten
aus Jim Jarmuschs Film Paterson
Dieterich'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2017


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Gedichte. Fanbook. Hall of Fame.
edition suhrkamp, 2018


-  Die Live Butterfly Show
Gedichte, Hanser Berlin, 2018


-  Infiniment proche
Poésie, Gallimard, 2015


-  Femmes poètes de la Beat Generation
éditions Bruno Doucey, 2018


-  Picknick in der Nacht
Gedichte, Hanser, 2016


-  An den Ufern der Dunkelheit
Gedichte aus Palästina
Fischer Taschenbuch, 2013


-  Warum ich nicht im Netz bin
Gedichte und Prosa aus dem Krieg
Suhrkamp, 2016


-  Das Buch der klassischen Haiku
Hrsgb. Jan Ulenbrook
Reclam, 2018


-  Let Them Eat Chaos
Sollen sie doch Chaos fressen
Lyrik, edition suhrkamp, 2018

-  Hold Your Own
Gedichte, Suhrkamp, 2016

-  Worauf du dich verlassen kannst
Roman, Rowohlt, 2016


-  Fjorde
Lyrik, édition g. binsfeld, 2018


-  Fass mich an
Beats, Punchlines, Bitchmoves
édition g. binsfeld, 2017


-  Autopsie
Roman (op lëtz.), Ultimomondo, 2014

-  Abrasch
Poesie, éd. phi, 2013

(1957 - 2018)

-  Fuchs im Aufzug
Erzählungen, capybarabooks, 2017


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aus der Collectioun smart
Erzielungen, éd. Kremart, 2017

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