Starting the IV (David Watts)

I am good at this.
The arm bends out, the vein
lies stretched and succulent,
transparent under the sheen
of alcohol. My fingers slide
the slippery skin, tracing

He says he’s fine
but I see the cinch
of his muscles. So I tell him
I’m the best
and he eases,

The needle glides
under the skin, beveled tip
in its slip along the vein
where I rest it
and let him relax. It waits
like a mosquito attached
by its sucker.

I press the tip
against the bulbous channel
and the wall bends, resisting
for an instant, then,
as if capitulating, gives way
and a column of blood
enters the tubing.

I have learned not to hesitate here,
not to let fears of my own
about anesthesia, about loss
of control, get in the way.
He will want to descend
quickly, not pausing
to feel each station of detachment.
I take the control he gives me
and bring him down.


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