Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Blood

She had the blood, too. Bathtubs filled
to enameled lip and her body
pouring. As a girl, I thought being
a woman meant your life spilling from you
like a cup of juice you kept knocking over.
I was young enough to think anything
that bled was a wound. The moon
waited like a round-faced witness
in the window each month, steam
erasing the mirrors and the walls
weeping. All night the tap running
and running. I wanted to know
how pain made a woman
curl like a pill bug poked with a stick.
I wanted to know everything about suffering
so I could avoid it. I was young enough
to think things like that, seven years
small, when calamity was skinned knees and little
brothers and an upturned sundae
crashing to the floor like a chandelier.
All I knew of disaster was Hollywood
movies where houses were swallowed
easy as bubblegum and spaceships
hovered like gnats out of reach—ruin always
at a distance—and you could press your face into
your mother and everything would be all right
once you turned on the lights.
Sometimes, now, when the ache comes
and I am coiled in dark water, I remember
that distant self like a daughter
I gave up or lost in a bustling
food court and never saw again,
the remembering painful.
And sometimes I wonder if she knew
why her blood came angrier
than any other’s, blood like my blood,
which now seethes and conspires and appears
on MRI scans like a black eye or a crop circle
or the earth’s eager void.  

From Deluge by Leila Chatti. Reprinted with permissions from Copper Canyon Press.

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