Amanda Crum – The Exchange

My Body is the kind that doesn’t know a good thing when she has it:
fair skin without lines, thick sheaf of hair
without silver threads. She is ruthless,
sometimes precognitive in dreams: when the blood came
she made sure I saw it first in sleep. Now that it’s gone,
she sends me phantom-limb images of scarlet wings on cotton,
as though she can’t quite believe it will never come back.
In my youth I was unkind to her.
I fed her sugar and honey with nothing substantial,
I kept her awake for days and berated her
when she had the audacity
to feel weak.
I handed her over to people who mistreated her.
I had always wanted to be a mother but I never saw
what a dreadful caregiver I could be.
I couldn’t even give her water
when her very bones were dry.
Now I want better for her.
With age comes the wisdom that her failings are my own
so I check in every day,
keep her hydrated,
pet her cheek
and whisper that everything will be okay.
I tell her I’m proud of her and what I would do for her--
even give up sugar and honey
in exchange
for an offering of blood.

Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work has been published in Barren Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, and more. In 2021, she was the recipient of the Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction. Amanda lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.

Photo by Alexander Ant on