Blood Demands | Barbara Harroun

~For William

Let us speak of the risen
moon, and the blood stain
of the setting sun on the waters
of anguish and ecstasy; all the rip
tide currents that pull us under

and along. My dear it’s lovely
to look upon from the safety
of volcanic rock, ribbons
of wind flowering our hair, waxy

perfume of the tropics sewn to necklace
our clavicles and salt dusting our naked
shoulders. I know because I placed
my tongue to yours, licked playfully

before biting hard enough to hear
your breath seize, hard enough to know
beneath the skin all those blue tributaries
carry your blood to the thick muscle
of your heart. If the water took you

I would strip the world from my skin–
these ridiculous clothes, enter your
terror naked, tread water beside you,
my soft belly to your back. We’d ride

it out, as we have everything that demanded
blood—my own, or yours, or a bit of both.
We never slit our palms and pressed
our bleeding together in oath, and yet

and yet, haven’t we? Haven’t we?

Barbara Harroun is an Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University. Her most recent work is forthcoming or appearing in Per Contra Fiction, Fiction Southeast, Watershed Review, and Text Magazine. Her favorite creative endeavors are her awesome kids, Annaleigh and Jack. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she can be found walking her beloved dog, Banjo, or engaging in literacy activism and radical optimism. She can be found at


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