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Marked Man

A midlife tattoo confounds his friends and family, but for writer Steve Lewis it provides an indelible sense of place.

Circus Performer by Maria Pace-Wynters

“What happened?” my wife exclaimed. She was pointing at the gauzy white bandage on my forearm.I shrugged and offered a sheepish one-word explanation: “Tattoo.” Followed by a meager one-word addendum: “Hatteras.”“That is so cool!” my son Bay, then 16, blurted into the silence, instantly chilling the warm kitchen. So it went: my oldest son, Cael, a father himself, glanced at the anointed arm and shook his head at the aging hippie he sometimes ruefully calls Dad. “It’s going to look like a scar!” Next, after one colleague spied the tattoo at a faculty meeting and sputtered, “What the hell?” another admitted that she thought it was a blade of grass stuck to my forearm. Eventually, like all things around the spinning globe, it came full circle as an artist friend took one look and sneered, “It kinda looks like a scar!”It is not a scar. “It” is a three-inch tattoo of Hatteras Island, a narrow barrier reef off the coast of North Carolina where my family and I have found respite from the concerns of daily life for the past 35 years. An outline of the island shows a jagged left hook near the lighthouse . . . whi …

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