A finding in Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Anthology:
Blood was always there.
When a child fell in the playground
and teachers rushed forwards
to wipe and bandage,
I scrutinised abrasions
hoping to glimpse the body’s mystery
in glistening coagulations.
When blood was mentioned at secondary school—
boys embarrassed to talk
about what every girl knew—
I thought of the body releasing itself
in a hundred ways—as if always
wanting to let parts of itself go.
I listened to the body
of the first girl I made love to,
her intestines and bloodflow
like a subterranean singing;
touched the arm of a friend
and felt his warmth
like an estuary’s tidal spasm
during heat-waved summer.
My own body
seemed little more than a container
for the litres of blood I carried—
the heart giving it exercise,
the arteries and veins
constructing myriad intricacies—
hemoglobin moving cells
and star-shaped platelets
over thousands of slippery kilometres.
I read about blood baths and massacres,
envisaged tribes enacting close, tied dominions.
When words ran into my teenage body
and wanted the shapes of poems
I thought of them as blood-cousins
searching the heart’s pulse
and the violet flowers
of rooted, unreachable wounds.
Paul Hetherington is the award-winning author of seven poetry collections and two
chapbooks. His next collection is due in 2013. He is Associate Professor of Writing at theUniversity of Canberra and edited three volumes of the National Library of Australia’s edition of the diaries of the artist Donald Friend.