Of the Blood

For years I suffered 
from daily nosebleeds.
They happened so often, 
the teacher barely looked up 
anymore  except to hand me 
a wad of toilet paper: best 
not to be a distraction
to the lesson, best 
not to stain clean writing
paper with splotches of red.
As instructed, I went to sit 
quietly in one corner 
of the principal's office, 
where someone patted my hand
kindly, or reminded me to tip 
my head up and apply pressure 
on the side of my nostril. Half
an hour of counting the ceiling
tiles, of guessing who might be
passing through the corridor
by the shadow they cast 
on glass jalousie blinds. 
And the taste— mineral
oxides that poured down
the back of my throat 
until they pooled. If you don't 
learn the color and taste of your 
own blood, you might not learn 
anything either about the nail 
on your little finger, the inside 
of your elbow, what you turn
to when you close your eyes.

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