Friday, April 24, 2009

NaPoWriMo #22: blood

First, let us pause for a moment of self-pity and complaint: April's not even over yet, and I've been sick twice. Both times the same nasty throat-scratching, coughing, hacking bug. I'm so ready to be done with this. Not least because it's really interfering with my writing. Oh, and did I mention I got a rejection letter the other day? Yeah, Literary Mama; go ahead and kick me while I'm down.

Sorry. Had to get that out of my system. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. A couple days back, Read Write Poem had a great prompt about rites of passage. A couple of the particular ones mentioned—birth and death among them—blended oddly with a phrase that's been bouncing around inside my head, so here is the result.

Blood Will Out

The first I drew was not my own
but hers who gave me
life with her blood
life ushered into sterile solitude
blood blossoming
poppies on a field of white
a mother
a daughter
delivered by strangers
surrounded by empty beds
a father
a husband
both distant in passion and place
I can tell myself
it was a different time
it was how it was done then
but I still hear slow ticking
of wall clock’s minute hand
smell bleach on rough sheets
taste salt as waves closed
over her head and she sank
down down down.

Fourteen years later
my own bleeding came
not life, but that pale promise of
life yet to come
away from home
fleeing to clammy-tiled solitude
protected only by flimsy restroom walls
of gray paint-flaked steel
I found a single poppy blooming
blood on white panties
a daughter
a daughter
delivered by a stranger with a dime
surrounded by empty stalls
a mother
my mother
distant in person and place
I can tell myself
she would have put her arm around me
she would have said just the right thing
but I still feel soft cotton of my pink striped dress
hiked up above my thighs
smell industrial strength sickly sweetness
of restroom air freshener
taste hardness in cold water
I splashed on my face as I sank
down down down.

Twenty years after that
was the first time I gave
life with my blood and
killed a part of her as well
she who had been so alone her first time
I didn’t understand she feared the same for me
she didn’t understand I feared the opposite
dreaded being center ring in some
frenzied circus spinning around
blood blooming scarlet petals from
thin red line across my belly
a daughter
a mother
and so by my own will I was
delivered by strangers
surrounded by steel instruments
a husband
my husband
his clammy hand folded tenderly around mine
I can tell myself
it was my right to draw my line
it was healthy to have boundaries
but I still smell sharp oxygen
pricking in my nostrils
taste steely sweetness of my blood
mingled with hers
feel waves of regret sweeping me
down down down.


helgaruth said...

I love NaPoWriMo! I having been missing you for the past several days (of course I can't pick up a phone - maybe it's because that's what I do for a living :{). I feel like I've just had a lovely conversation with you - thank you for sharing so freely of yourself during this literarily wonderful time of the year!

No Cool Story said...

That was very different. COol.