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Idle Markings

When I was younger

I spent one idle summer


playing volleyball and selling plasma.

Twice a week I’d go and sit,

watching as the alcoholics

tried to squeeze

another bottle from their veins

and flirting with the dark-haired tech

who set my blood to

spinning round in vicious circles

just outside of my body.

Twice a week she’d take my arm

and turn it over in her hands

to find the mark she’d made before,

a healing place

within the hollow of my skin,

then softly tear

a cold new needle

through the forming scar

and open up my body

one more time

to pull my blood apart for me,

The whole thing lasted

just about an hour

and after I was done

I’d take my money and my red cells

off to find a sandwich

and some sand.

I ended that warm summer with a small white mark

inscribed above the vein

in my left arm,

a memory, hand-knitted

to remind me of an idle season’s cost.

For years it has stared up at me,

a silent moment of my past

that I can feel beneath my touch.

Lately, though, I cannot see it when I look,

unless I focus

harder than I should,

and I am left to wonder

if it is so far gone with age that

the echo of the thought

is all that’s left.

Perhaps I need to make fresh scars

to tell the story

of these busy days,

and pull my blood back into view

to mark and see

the time that I have lost

since I’ve forgotten

what it means

to just be idle

in the world.


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