In Biology class we stared
at those swollen balloon cells.
Pinched under glass all bled
out, a dozen little fossils.
Flat nuclei stretched like canvas,
all the sad parts stuck on there
labeled Red Blood Cell #3.

They made me think of you.

Remember when I cut my finger
on the paring knife,
my thumb split open like a tiny belly.
A surge of redcoats,
an ambush to the valley of my palm.
You stopped the bleeding,
and my thumb smiled a fleshy smile.

Sometimes I look at my arms and legs
brushed with ribbons of purple and blue.
The cells tunnel through me like ants.

Who are you in there?
Number yourselves!

I press my ear to the skin
of my wrist, which in the light
seems thin as parchment paper.
Only dull knocking comes back
from the inside,
the body’s constant battle
to untangle itself.

Still, the thumb healed, you left.
But I studied you too long,
and like the imprint of sun
on my eyelids, your image
still pulses in the dark.

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