First, Blood

This entry is part 38 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


Sudden and lovely, dangerous-looking: dark
crimson streaks that sketched their way down
the insides of my mother’s thighs, her calves,

too dark this ink that did not belong
on concrete walkway— Some brush
drawing these lines too rapidly

from deep inside, their meaning still
mostly inscrutable. I remember her pale
hand that clutched my tiny fist and the other

that let go of the market bag, to hail
a passing cab or jeepney— The next few days
in the hospital, that word I learned: hysterectomy,

the paring of the womb or of its parts. She lay
in bed or on the couch for a week afterwards,
and from here began my other lessons: gave me

dictation as I learned the ligaments to sever,
and rinsed the chicken parts for stew. My fingers
slid under rubbery skin and traced blue arteries

beneath. Water washed but could not quite
erase the ferrous smell, the hint of lichen
or peeled green that clasped the outer

edges of the sink. My senses mothered
by mother-blood, I understood when my
time came. Persephone clenched bright

teeth of the pomegranate under her tongue:
we need this kind of courage. Trembling, I
have scribed the first blood of the month

across my cheeks— waxy red like the lip of
the anthurium, pores stippled with anthocyanins
like the Moro or Sanguinello— body written,

body writing what it knows and does not know.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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