April Freely
Photograph by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

At the end of the privacy of my body

techs infuse my autonomic function

with intention and vitality.


My veins lie in their bed

but I want to declare my readiness

to be broken into. They say my veins


jump and flip, they say my veins roll

and hide: but to see my body stand against

one who has come to help is another failure.


The tech gets out the twenty-three-gauge needle

and whatever snaps shut in the tight space

of the intake station: more people


are ill than the architects had imagined.

Stuck several times on the right and left

I do “breathing with purpose,” I think


about the centrifuge to come: my plasma, my

vacancy, as the phlebotomist reads through 

the camouflage of stippled fields


on the backs of my hands, then gives each

tube a gentle shake. My brother waits

for a new kidney, so I must say who


on the registry I will not save, when I’d rather

be as forgotten as the black woman

in scrubs, leaving the room, her turn


as a body without me, whose name

I can’t remember now, despite the familiar

tenderness at the touch of an unseen hand.

April Freely’s poetry and essays appeared in American Poetry ReviewNinth LetterSeneca Review, and elsewhere. She received fellowships and awards from Cave Canem, the Ohio Arts Council, Vermont Studio Center, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. At the time of her death in 2021, she was the Executive Director of Fire Island Artist Residency.