Alex Franco

The Gift

A woman is giving blood and she is terrified. Whether

this fear lingers from a pediatrician’s office or stems

from some fresher trauma I can not say. She is not

alone–her husband grips her wrist, his fingers lost between

hers. The knuckles of their hands are white as fresh

milk spilt across a tabletop, her heart beats with the ferocity

of a tire stuck in mud, the whine of gears against confinement.

The needle winks out of its sterile package and the woman

screams. And screams. Heads turn to watch the body convulse

in spasms of fright, running through her like frozen

oil–biting but refusing to stand still. Her husband twists her neck around

and kisses her. Chests arch forward off the back of chairs as her

legs writhe. Given and taken, they break

tears of red on the white cotton covering her wound, makeup

a mess on her face. What words pass between them,

the man standing, the woman nodding in a love-laden

daze? What words could be put to that intimacy, to describe

his touch against her burning flesh, her cries in his

ears? How could anyone outside of this beautiful

coupling adequately express the gratitude of this gift, as well

as the utter and complete lack of need?

Alex Franco studies Creative Writing and French at Bard College in New York, but his heart remains eternally in the South. He also writes a webcomic, Souper! …just super, because he likes to make people laugh when not writing poetry.