Three thin pricks
of the syringe along the cupped
curve of the vulva, and the red skin
breaks like a small dam.
I fainted—so Victorian, so
Freud’s hysterical woman;
you’d have thought all the blood
in my body had escaped
through those small needle points.
Someone else might not have gone
pale, passed out; we never know
what will send us, drained and hazy.
One cracked tube of ammonia
under my nose, and I returned to cough
and complain. But even once
the gauze dried, once the nerves—
struck dumb—ceased their pulsing,
they would not let me stand.
Like bee stings the nurse had told me,
straight mouth, white gloves.
Katherine Bode-Lang was born and raised in western Michigan. She is the 2014 winner of The American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize; The Reformation will be published this fall. Her chapbook, Spring Melt (Seven Kitchens Press), placed second in the 2008 Keystone Chapbook Contest and earned the New England Poetry Club’s Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. She has published in numerous journals, including The American Poetry Review, The Mid-American Review, Beloit, The Cincinnati Review, and Subtropics. Katherine earned her MFA in poetry at Penn State University, where she is now an IT Trainer in the Office of Research Protections. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Andrew.