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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,

flirting with the dark-haired tech and

watching as the alcoholics

tried to squeeze a bottle from their veins

before I’d settle in to read some book or other

while my blood spun round in vicious circles

just outside of my body.

Twice a week they’d slide a needle

through my skin,

the hollow metal tearing just enough

to let my life fall out.

Always in the left forearm,

and always


in the exact same spot.

Twice a week they’d

pierce the forming scar again

to open up my body

and pull my blood apart for me,

before they’d gave it back

and send me on my way.

It 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 the flirty tech left

knitted through my skin

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 thoughts

are 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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