CNF: A Lesson on Tattoo Removal

by Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez


When I was a teenager, my mother took a knife to the small cross tattooed on her left hand. She hated her tattoo. She hated how strangers would stare at her hand, sometimes asking if she belonged to a gang or served time. She hated how employers asked her to cover it with makeup. She never told me the story, yet I knew. I saw it in the way she dug her nails into the cross when she thought no one was looking. I felt it in the way her body caved when I asked about girlhood. I witnessed it when she sharpened a pocketknife and cut into her flesh, lemons sliced and ready to squeeze into a freshly opened wound. I remember my mother defying, showing me how to heal from the specters of permanence, from the fear of our past selves.


Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez (she/her) resides in Colorado. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bright Flash Literary Review, Prose Online, Five Minutes, The Headlight Review, and elsewhere. Learn more about Adrianna at adriannasanchezlopez.com.


See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “A Lesson on Tattoo Removal”?

This piece came to life during a generative workshop offered by Chestnut Review. I had bodies on my mind, and, during a short moment of meditation, the image of my mother’s tattoo came to me. In its first draft, this was a 3,000-word essay that just fell flat. I spent the next few months whittling it down, discovering meaning in a moment I’ve been contemplating for nearly two decades.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


02/26 • D Angelo
03/04 • Steve Cushman
03/11 • Rita Taryan
03/18 • Jessica Purdy
03/25 • TBD