Lab Work
by Lyman Grant

It’s not the practiced joy
of the phlebotomist
it’s not the whiff
punch of alcohol
wipes cleaning the skin
it’s not the snap
of the rubber tourniquet
strangling the forearm
it’s not the tap tap tap
on the median cubital vein
disturbing one’s morning
like an unsolicited sales call
it’s not prick pain
of the needle penetrating
or the fist releasing
it’s the gray and the soft
in the waiting room
the old man shuffling in
too weak to lift his legs
scooting his swollen feet
as if dragging two chains
that soon would reach their end
it’s his gnarled smile
and knotted hand raised
to another set of strangers
it’s his practiced arm
laid out like a dancer’s,

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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