Walk with Bloodspots (II)

Walk with Bloodspots (II) by Lia Purpura

Coming slant in sheets, steaming the sidewalk mid-summer, then stopping—the first rain since the murder on University Parkway. Across the street from my son’s girlfriend’s house. A few miles from ours. Two blocks from another friend, whose blood I’ve seen, body I’ve tended—that complicated wound on her hip the antibiotics wouldn’t fix. Years ago now. She stayed for a while in an oxygen chamber, maybe it helped, she can’t remember. When she came home that first week, I’d go to her and as dinner heated and the girls ran around, I took off the bandage. Cleaned at the edges. Replaced the dressing. It was so deep the bone flashed like a moon between night hills.

Here on the sidewalk, rain’s kindled up all these live reds—root of an oak scuffed clean of its bark, big hearted coleus, gas-and-electric flag marking a line, plastic bag stuck to the curb and translucing. Then a few spots of rust shone up through a puddle. No, the feel of finding them lit, no real shining went on. They embellished nothing. They marked an event but could not say the story. A guy came towards me walking his collie. He knew what I was looking for. Because he was, too. As we passed each other, there it was, all the mutual knowing and we looked away fast, no words for the passing, the rain gone, the blood dimming, and we were ashamed of living like that—as if days go on, which they do, and for being the ones who, by living, confirm it.

Lia Purpura’s most recent collection of poems is It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (Penguin). Her new collection of essays, All the Fierce Tethers (Sarabande Books) will be out in 2019. On Looking (essays) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work appears in The New Yorker, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, Agni, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore, MD, is Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop’s MFA program.