At the Blood Bank

May 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Pat Tompkins is a long-time Stanford Blood Center donor who has been inspired by donating blood ever since realizing she qualified to give. “Because I’ve lacked the money and time to give much to good causes, I’ve been glad to donate blood instead.” Here, she shares her beautiful poem about blood donation with us.


Clench, pierce, pump:
out flows a hot, dark pint.

Before I make a deposit,
the nurse checks pressure, heat, iron,
questions drugs, sex, travel.
How little a no or yes tells.

A plastic vein transfers saturated memory,
richer than my medical history:
remembrance of every song the Beatles sang
craving for ice cream and chocolate bittersweet
preference for Graham Greene and Edgar Allan Poe
delight in snapdragons and swimming
abhorrence of foie gras and caviar
fondness for spaniels and basset hounds
experience with Iowa winters and West Coast earthquakes

Every few months, I gain unknown relatives
eating dessert, petting dogs, singing of love, looking for clues.
Mingling talismans, blood sisters/brothers,
somewhere out there, my secret sharers.

Originally published in flashquake and Re/Verse.