Butterfly (for NaPoWriMo, Day 12)

You were not mean, exactly,
but you were petty, and sometimes
this is all that’s required; a certain
businesslike adherence to rules
and procedure is enough to shut
the door when a world, a life
has narrowed down to this one
sharp point. I couldn’t have a
butterfly needle, you said,
because my veins were big,
and butterfly needles are for
small veins, and there wouldn’t be
enough suction for it to go quickly,
and you weren’t about to wait ten
minutes for my blood to fill the vial.
I’m sure I became a little wild then.
I’m sure you saw the rough edges
of panic that I cover pretty well
with politeness and with
numbing cream. I called it what
it was, then, a phobia. You walked
out, without a word or a glance. (Isn’t
there anything that scares you?) You
should know that Tara scoffed when
I told her what you’d said. You should
know that she threw away your vial
and big needle, now unsterile and
unneeded. You should know that
I loved her, would have given her
more blood if she’d asked me to.
By the way, it only took a minute
or so to fill the new vial, even with
the butterfly needle. Tara was
quick, and she was kind;
sometimes this is all
that’s required.



NaPoWriMo, Day 12 prompt: Write a poem that consists of things you’d like to say to a particular person but never would.


A Veteran

I was a nurse in the Army,
you know, during the war.
World War II. It’s easy
to forget there have been
other wars, because that’s
the one I saw with my own
eyes, the one where I
sewed up wounds with
barely enough anesthetic,
and nothing, nothing at all
to take the real pain away.

At night, sometimes, all
the boys would lie awake,
raving, still hearing bombs
even though all was quiet
then. You don’t know what
quiet is, or noise, until
you’ve been the only one
in her right mind on the ward
at night, all the doctors
off somewhere else,

sleeping, I guess, or else
forgetting in ways I never
could. I was allowed to
give something to help
those broken boys sleep,
and sometimes I did,
when a needle seemed
kindest. More often,
though, I sang lullabies,
asked about mother,
sweetheart at home,
patted the place where
a hand used to be.

Funny thing is, sometimes
I could feel the gone hand
squeezing mine. I still can.

I still do.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 11 (prompt: a poem from a veteran’s point of view).