A poem by Linda McCauley Freeman

Giving Blood
He stood on the edge of the dock and thought about leeches—
the black water churned with them—two on Andrea
last week and yesterday his hand raised one floating
in his palm. Now counselors’ whistles blew and buddies called.
He pressed long, skinny toes into splintered plank.
Goosebumps rose over his chest, where the metal crucifix hung.
He crossed himself and heard his last name, two syllables clashing
cymbals. Salt worked for everything here: food, leeches, luck.
The white plastic shaker at the toe of his sleeping bag, with his mother’s last letter.
He bent his knees, arched arms over head, careful to pull in elbows, suck in breath.

***

Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work for an international journal. She recently won Grand Prize in Storiarts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and her work was selected by the Arts Mid Hudson for inclusion in their Artists Respond to Poetry 2018 and 2020 shows. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She and her husband are professional swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY (www.got2lindy.com).

Photo by Photo by Mael BALLAND.

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