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?