"L. H. N." - David Noah
My dad had a tattoo on his forearm
inked in dark blue: the letters L. H. N.
But since he didn’t have a middle name,
I asked, when I was thirteen and ready,
what H stood for. “Hell,” he said, “or Heaven.
One night in the navy we got real drunk
and all got tattooed by some handsome guy
who asked what I wanted. I said No hearts
and no flowers, just write my initials:
L. N., and the guy said ‘No middle name?’
Make it an H, I told him with a grin,
and that’s how I learned my calling.
For not one of us knows our own true name
until a stranger writes it on our skin.”
(photo by Michelle Castleberry)