Her Name is Rose

With a boil the size of an egg
protruding from her right hip,
she knows what I must do,
and to stall me has locked herself
inside the bathroom, bargaining
for a way out.

But it’s too late: I’ve seen
the oozing wounds stopped up with bits
of toilet paper and tape, the scarified
pockets that crater the surface
of her arms, buttocks, thighs.

A mean fix torched her last vein
years ago, and she’s been banging the dope
ever since, puncturing her body
like a juju doll. She wants to kick,
but not now.

I’m not gonna lie to you, she says
in a velvet voice. I already know what she’s after:
something stronger than local, a few Percocet, a shot of Demerol
before she’ll let me begin.

All I can tell you is, when the abscess finally drains
the odor is so foul it’s evil.

And I’m not sure, driving home
later that night, still smelling the pallid citrus,
whether it’s merely hallucination, the way
her memory inhabits me; or if being
in that same room, inhaling
that same air, made some of her
part of me.

                  And whose veins
are these, beginning to twitch?

Peter Pereira, "Her Name is Rose" from Saying the World (Copper Canyon Press, 2003).www.coppercanyonpress.org
Source: Saying the World (Copper Canyon Press, 2003)
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