Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Poet’s statement: This poem ponders how giving blood is an almost religious experience—connecting with others, giving a part of oneself, a sacrament or sacrifice in stations like the stages of the cross.
|Blood of my blood
First station—awkward screening
questions. Where have you
lived? Who slept with?
What other sins? Tattoos?
Drugs? Dialysis?The inquisitor’s eyes probe
after every question,
trying to sound my soul.
Second station—my drop of blood
sinks slowly, I am found worthy.Third station—I show a man
my best vein. His needle
pierces my skin, catching
at the old scars, proof
of my experience.He’s good. The cabernet
rush comes quickly.
The bag slowly swells,
like an engorged tick,
ready to burst.I wait, pumping my fist,
and try to smile,
ignore the metal in my arm,
imagine sending warmth
and hope to a strangerwho will receive
a part of me. Fourth station—
a nurse touches my arm
and leads me to my sacrament
of juice and cookies.
Photography by Ollie Crafoord
WYNNE MORRISON, MD, MBE, is a physician practicing pediatric critical care and palliative care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.