Syringe Training,
Home Visit

In the quiet voice I enforce all nights
              by this hour

my husband asks the nurse in
                                          and would she like

some water
and shows her to the table where we’ve laid it

all out: the tiny vial,
the needles, the orange, a square of gauze

like timid dodge-ball hopefuls.

              Was that a crying noise?

We three share a look and sit. One jewel
of sweat unlocks,

                            smears a strip down my too-rouged cheek.

                            No time, no time at all, you’ll have this down

she jabs the rind, greenish
                                          my flesh

too is ill.
                                          But once I culled a soul

              and my middle brewed it—a swimmer
boy with fly wing
                                          skin like mine.

My turn next
with the syringe and there it is

              Don’t hurt, you’ll see . . .

                            the crying sound        again, I flash

down the hall to that sweet-smell dark belonging

to someone else.

Lauren Goodwin Slaughter is the recipient of a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry, Eleven Eleven, Blackbird and Chariton Review. Her first collection, A Lesson in Smallness, was published in May 2015.