Keeping a Junkie Alive

Here, try this one, she says,
pointing to her last good vein.
“This one’s for emergencies.”
This must be that emergency
because she is dying.
The IV is put in her scarred arm.
She may live,
for now,
for this night full of her blood and cries.
Tomorrow, when she is better,
when her heart and lungs are strong,
and this night is gone –
she’ll squeeze this night into a new syringe
and inject its pain
in the vessel saved for emergencies,
like her death,
her life.

Bonnie Salomon, Chicago, Class of 1987

Originally published in Vol. II: 1986