Writing Is Like A Bloodletting by Elise Swanson Ochoa

The blood-red velvet curtains
hang heavy and limp
around the silken bed.
Braided knots, damp sheets
bear my sweating, searing brain.
A delirium, 
another fit, 
God, please, rid me of my sins.

The cool drip of the towel pulled from the basin
rings in my ears like the screeches of the damned.
The hot licks of the fireplace
whip my veiled eyes.
Tossing my cheeks,
but I can’t turn away.
My blood is dirty.
Immediate purification, Almighty.
Bring the leeches!

Slippery and black
piled in the jar.
Place them just so—
over the heart,
the jugular,
the crook of the arm—

and watch them feed, 
my darlings. 
A devilish symbiosis, yes, 
excavate deeply,
draw thickly.

The leech swells,
gleaming in its pudge.
A surreptitious cackle 
as my heart calms
to its usual rhythm;

a lone 
thumping.

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