Caroline DeLuca

Ironbound

A man I used to call mine
arrived as if awaited (of course

awaited, but not like this (and
of course there was a but))

in my subway car. He walked
right up to my seat and scooped

a handful of blood from an abdomen
wound, matter-of-fact as a tulip bud

and held it out to me, a script
in which I didn’t know how to act.

He persisted, though I lacked
a manual of any kind, for piecing

the story or his body back
together. The plasma leaked

through the cracks parting
his knuckles. He spread his fingers

and left a piece of himself
on the floor. He shoveled out more

from his middle for me, which I tried to catch.
Struck dumb, the old crush of nothing you can do

flooded the roads in my wrist. He made
a move to keep spilling his guts, and I finally

forced myself to speech: I said, “Please
stop, I’ve got
no arms left to hold all this.”