Kristen Steenbeeke

DONATING

With a click
of the lancet
and a thin cylinder
inserted in my
middle finger
the woman behind
her full-face plastic
visor with its pink
and yellow sparkly
flower stickers
now possesses
my blood compliments
my A-plus hematocrit
centrifuged
the stick of blood
is half red half
water I’m cleared
to go sign off
with middle finger
print hinted
toward a lobby
below a tinny halo
of classic rock
on ten more people
I watch the lancet
prick though I can’t
see the little
bursting forth
of blood this
far away

*

Tattoos tallied
and noted in detail
how many
stairs what kind
of curtains how
many rows where is
the hexagon
and what of
the plants I think
this will be helpful
when I’m murdered
when they find
a window against
the palest skin
I’m asked to repeat
I acknowledge I am
I acknowledge I am
something something
plasmapheresis I pronounce
it right and think
the nurse must think
that I must think I’m too
smart for this whole thing
and then I think
how tiresome
this whole thing

*

Giving is a little
painful it’s all taken
out via the elbow vein
drained of plasma
then red cells sent
shooting back up
the depleted arm
one squeezes one’s
fist in and out
repeatedly gotta pump
out that cache that liquid
that holds everything
in suspension in me

*

After a half hour
of the plasma being
sucked out I become
faint lose my hearing
overhead Boston plays
More Than a Feeling
as if under an ocean
a woman with a tiny
laptop comes over
takes my vitals gives
me an ice pack
to the neck holds
it there you’re pale
she says are you
hot she says the saline
is in the bag and heading
for you great I say
the other donors are peering
at me from behind
their paperbacks
their phones the whole
row pumping their
hands seeming sanguine
and looking at me corpsely
white suspended in a scoop-
like seat and me wondering
if I still get paid if
the white-coated folks
weren’t done taking the thing
we came to let them
take from us


KRISTEN STEENBEEKE recently graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship. She won Indiana Review’s 2017 Poetry Prize and has had work in Gramma, Pinwheel, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, Third Coast, and Tin House Open Bar.


Issue Six
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