Blood Nurse

by Patricia Ace

Winner of the 2003 TWO! Poetry Competition


Glorified mosquito, that’s me.
The first point of enquiry
In a process of elimination,
Looking for negatives.

I can raise a vein
To within an inch of its life
In a matter of minutes;
Tighten the tourniquet

To its optimum pressure,
Coax the baby-soft crease
At the inner elbow, reveal
The turquoise rivulets beneath.

Here comes a fat one,
Pulsing under my thumb like a well-fed snake.
Small prick now I warn them, casually,
Sliding the steel into the lumen.

Quite often there’s a noise, a spurt, a gurgle,
A trickle as it seeps into the vial,
The purple oracle. I watch for signs of fainting,
Bleached faces, loss of speech, trembling.

All done! I smile and press at the pinhole,
Bagging the labelled vessel for the lab.
I never learn the outcomes of my letting...
Anaemia, HIV, leukaemia, hepatitis B or C

It’s all there in the blood
If you care to find out.
Are you allergic to elastoplast?
Results in a week.