Through the microscope, the image was clear,
a simple ghost, no heme or globin, the ferrous red was gone.
The centrifuge had broken down and separated each cell,
our mission complete except for one more challenge.
To what is patient “A” immune, why would she attack, so easily,
the substance on which she depended?
Mystery shrouds the disease like a magician’s cape,
unwilling to reveal what is hidden in dark places.
We enter the room where she waits; seeing us, she extends her arms.
Each syringe on the tray we carry holds within it the divided fractions of cells.
She chooses the color of the marker to draw around and label each injection site.
We make a chart denoting each spot, and when done we leave the room,
and so does she, to wander through the halls, the labyrinthine layout
of a hospital grown like Topsy through the decades.
She knows she must return in an hour, but a candle of pain lights,
and flares up like a wildfire on her arms. She waits as long as her endurance will bear,
and stumbles back to the room. She sits and waits for the cadre of physicians,
daring herself not to look at what they may or may not see.
One gasp tells the story, as her doctor looks into her pain-filled eyes.
“We did not know the sites were too close,” he apologizes.
“Your reaction or reactions have overlapped one another;
we cannot distinguish one from the other. But do not worry, we shall not put you through this again.
We know enough.”
They did not ever determine the blood fragments that her body could not handle,
but they at least knew she would have an intolerance to her own life-giving serum
should a fragile vein break, or a minor bruise unsettle her own immunity.
“If you live through the next several years,
there is a chance the disorder will abate.”
With nothing but pain pills and bed rest, told to avoid a single bruise,
she left with their business cards and best wishes in her pocket,
and the remembrance of a ragged smile upon the doctor’s face.
Her husband and parents with her,
they left the building of answers for questions not hers.
She stepped out first into the rain and carefully made her way down the hill
to where the car was parked. They all left in blind silence.
No one looked back.
P.S. She made it through the years, and somewhat worse for the wear, she lives on, grateful for enough. . .