Waiting to Give Blood
The girl sits on the high school gym floor
Converse low-tops in prayer position
Earnest and eager, she clasps her ankles
And leans forward as she talks to her friends.
When a teacher walks in, she tips back
her thick, dark hair and asks him
what he thinks about her taking a gap year
to go to Guatemala, from where she just returned.
He hems. He haws. He gives the
parent-pleasing diplomatic answer
Go to college for a while first.
Take off a semester.
Try to get credit for it.
I want to grab the girl by her shoulders
And shake her awake.
Go! I would shout. Go to Guatemala.
Some day you will have kids and a job
A husband and a mortgage
And you will never be able to go anywhere.
You will never regret the things you do,
I would say, only the things you don't.
So go right now and never look back.
But I remain silent and instead
Shift my legs, crossing the right over
the left and pretend to read my book.