I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Lonely and a little bored,
I used to donate blood every eight weeks
at the Red Cross across the street
from my studio apartment.
Eyes skyward, arm shot straight, I’d sigh
as a butterfly needle settled on my skin,
its plastic wings drawn to a vein
in my forearm: a thin
river, ghost blue. And then —
warmth. Like an oven turned low, a slow
kindling beneath dark winter clothes.
Afterwards I’d pocket Oreos,
fig bars, a few extra juice boxes for later
that night, yet leave feeling lighter,
like I’d done something no one
could diminish. I still donate
here downstate, but last spring, after
the butterfly’s sting, I blacked out
in a synagogue basement —
my soaked back on a gurney
as the plastic sack filled. Nowadays
I can’t tell who I’m meant to help,
or how to help, or if anything really helps
anymore, though I guess that’s me
feeling lazy and drained
while, up north, between two
frozen rivers, a version of my youth
reenters that waiting room
beside a rusted diner and an off-brand
department store, lies back, and believes
he has so much more to give.