Megan Nourse

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by Megan Nourse

by Megan Nourse


A black-capped chickadee sits on the inside of my left wrist. It’s a watercolour-style tattoo, with soft lines and colour. It’s about three centimeters below the bend where my arm meets my left hand; the bird’s head is in the direct centre with its tail winding around my arm. Its wing is coloured with a mix of dusty blue and brown feathers and its body is made of a warm yellow tone.

Chickadees were a common sight at the outdoor education centre I worked at in the Albion Hills Conservation area just outside of Caledon in the fall of 2012. Their loud chirps and tendency to travel in groups made them easy to find while teaching city kids how to identify plants and build fires. If you stood still with some seeds in your hand, at least one would land softly on your hand, just long enough to get their seeds and fly away. A few seconds with a tiny, chirping bird on your hand was enough to make me smile even on my grumpiest days. It was a brief moment of calm and child-like joy that I was desperate for.

At the time, I didn’t have any tattoos, but I knew I needed a chickadee at some point. It was only a couple of months later, after meeting an artist in Waterloo I liked (Liz at Perfect Image) that I committed to carrying a chickadee around for life.


Books for Tats

Megan recommended this book herself. Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other?

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The Empathy Essays 

By Leslie Jamison