In the Beginning

First, I tried ticks, their bloated bodies like blisters,
round bellies, black blood splats on the sidewalk, burst
by bicycle wheels. Then leeches, when I was ten, feet
damp in the well of the boat, water splatter as the motor
roared, slick bodies, slick, bold mouths groping, gaining
purchase. I couldn’t leave them long enough to bleed me

dry. Picking scabs only stung. Shaving legs with dull blades
run up my shin, skin shallow divots welled with wet, more
plasma than platelets, like runoff in the narrow ditches
framing the fallow fields of my father’s farm. I slid
a sharper blade along the inside of my thigh, coke-line fine,
skin paper-thin and soft like the belly of a bee. The blood

ran in rivulets, dingy windows streaked with clean. I lack
the courage to go further, palpate the pocket of my pelvis,
find the femoral vein and knife-slice it like a steak. Instead,
I write this poem, imagine I was proud, or foolish, dive deep
into this wreck, pick my bones, such meager meat. Still these
animal-lungs inflate the cage around my stupid tender heart.

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