Blood Line


I wanted there to be a rivering, a signal.

I wanted the clench and bother, the stain and solder of it,

a desire to fit into that sisterhood.  I wanted it—

desire: the clench and solder

rivering: the stain and signal

the wanting: a fit and a bother




Each month, there was a river, signaling

         clench. Clot and bother. Stain and stench. A doubling

                     pain I did not want. The pain of that belonging—

doubling: the clench and signal

river: the stench and clot

the wanting: a bother of belonging




I wanted to be a river, gathering stones, signals

 to shape in my current and birth smooth and new

onto a shore.  I wanted to be both river and shore—

gathering: the stone and current

shape: the new and smooth

the wanting: a signal for shore




Each month, there was a river, signaling

         failure. Clot and carnage. Loss and empty. The breaking

                     of biology’s promise. A promise of a second heart—

failure: the clot and biology

carnage: the heart and signal

the wanting: an empty promise




I was tired of the rivering, all its tributaries, signals

         of nothing. Flow and fallow. Useless current. More

                     nuisance than nurture. I wanted to be landlocked—

flow: the useless and nuisance

fallow: the landlocked and nothing

the wanting: a signal of nurture



I wanted to be something else,

the river dry, a signal of endings.

Drought and flaking. Sweat and shiver.

A new shore for this salvage.

I salvage a self, unrivered.




Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications, as well as eight chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, and other journals, and she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry. Recently retired from 36 years in public education, she can’t wait to see what happens next.