Getting Tested

by Matt Zambito

-Columbus Health Department, May 17, 2002

If you could touch all the eyes
waiting, you think they’d feel completely pure
and petrified. You almost have to think
about each blink before it can occur.
Forms you fill with sins whittle
the minutes remaining. Names
burst from nurse mouths as numbers.
Like the other bodies, yours drags a city
of cells to the back, confesses
penetrations. The syringe’s fang
empties you to fill its belly. In love,
you have no choice but this and fear
the guilt for ending incomplete
Strangers. In the interview room, you forget
how to pray, sign, exaggerate, go
on with a day. “Will you kill
yourself?” they have to ask like you
haven’t or could be stopped with your heels
holding you to a brick tower, forefinger
pulling, engine filling the garage. For a chance,
you’d go sterile, never smile, give
yourself to anything up above.
Veins, nervous to know what fills them, try to stretch
out of your flesh. You haunt yourself.
You want nothing more than “Negative.”

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