June 16th, 2013
“HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND,”
the lab technician asks me
as she sticks the needle in my vein,
routine physical, blood rushing
up the tube as if being chased
out of my body. Fine, I tell her
all good, really good, did some things,
saw some people, ate out, got rid of shoes
I haven’t worn in years, craved ice cream,
but had no one to go with, so I went by myself,
embarrassed ordering a mint chip cone
alone in the middle of a Saturday, got over it
when I took a bite, euphoric, no longer caring
that my son was too old to take for ice cream.
Wrote a letter to my dead mother but couldn’t
read it at her grave because we cremated her
so I read it sitting at the kitchen table,
a photo of her propped up in front of me.
“Sounds amazing,” she says, my blood still flowing
up the tube, new one now as I’d filled up the first.
Where will they send my blood, and how
do they test for all the things they test for,
and what if they discover I have one
of a million diseases one could have, something
to confine me to bed for as many days, weekends
as I have left on this earth, or what if they find
nothing? Will I start to take pictures of my food
like a friend of mine does? He takes pictures
of what he’s about to eat so he’ll remember
what he put in his body, so if something goes
wrong he’ll know it was the yellowtail swimming
in lime sauce or the ginger sorbet with one proud
blackberry perched on top. He keeps files of photos
so he’ll never forget what he tasted, what filled him.
I want to taste the blood being drawn from my arm,
wonder if it would taste the same as my mother’s.
“What did you do this weekend,” she asks
forgetting she already asked. I had an ice cream cone,
I tell her, took a picture of it before it started to melt,
licked a drop of blood still warm from a new cut,
read a letter to my mother at her grave.
—from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist