Pat Jones


by Susan McLean

         for Sandy Fuhr, 1947–2008

First blood is always a shock. When what’s inside
pours out, escaping from its bodyguard,
time’s tourniquet or bandage is applied
and, mostly, we survive — though paler, scarred,
and never as trusting of that traitor, skin,
whose smug integrity has proved a fraud.
How easily we and it were taken in,
then learned its flimsy barrier was flawed.

At first we tell ourselves that time will heal
our map of cuts and gashes. Then once more
life’s edges rip a hole nothing can seal;
the red stream runs; we’re emptied, as before,
of what the heart needs most. The blood flows on
till everyone we care about is gone.

Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University.  Sandy Fuhr, one of her former students, had later become a librarian at the same university; she died of a hemorrhage after a biopsy on a brain tumor.