The femoral vein’s refulgent
urgency hurtles crotchward
to the heavenly symphasis pubis.
Like a blue behemoth it dithers
yon and hence at the knee,
beyond sense, as if it can’t make
up its mind, or has no mind at all.
It seemed to sprout overnight,
purpling the leg, a roiling storm.
The trunk is huge and fleshy,
a Lombard in travail. Cielo,
aiutame! Lord, it’s big! At least
wait until nightfall. Sleep and
study; take you knowledge and
your knife. There may appear
a traveler who without preamble
will challenge you to a match.
Checkmate him with your queen:
victory demands his cunning little
valuable. As you climb, expect
to ossify like the vein itself,
ancient but spry, your hair
the color of driftwood, your skin
burled hard as root. Like blue
blood slugged to the heart
by threadlike valves that nudge it
infinitesimally upward, you can’t
come back. Let me therefore kiss
your cheek farewell. Draw near
and let me queer your face once
more, O hirsute daughter. Let me pet
your curly sideburns and your beard.
Rhoda Janzen teaches creative writing and English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She has contributed poems to many literary journals.
“Varicose Vein” appears in our Spring 2005 issue.