Christina Cook

Edison bulbs dangle
from cords, exposed

beams, brick, retro-
chic leather chairs.

What we talk about:
how simple food is

the most satisfying,
how sunlight weakens

the eyes, how leeches
inscribe lake-beds, their

invisible calligraphy.
As long as nothing is torn

or broken, they will
heal it. On my gums,

he put four, referring
to them always

in the feminine.
At first she did not

want to bite. Prodding.
Two on my upper arm.

Distasteful soap residue.
Then she did not want

to drink. Some scoff
at the idea that they

are purifying. Removal
of blood, lymph,

and malignant
cells. She undulates

like a black throat.
A bare bulb flickers,

goes out.
Lake-bed blackness.

I cannot see
what she writes.








"Bloodletting" came into being one night when I read a New York Times article about current practitioners of the ancient medical practice of "bleeding" patients with leeches. I happened to be at my family's lakeside summer cottage, at night no less, where bloodsuckers lurk in mucky places that we all know to avoid when swimming. The cottage was a favorite place for my mother, whom I had recently lost to cancer. After living through eleven years of cancer treatments with her, always hoping that the next one would work better, my mind naturally went there as I began writing the poem.