Juan Luis Guzmán
Blood Meditations II
Excerpts from an essay
I read through an informational pamphlet when they tell us my dad needs a blood platelet transfusion before he can be released: candidates must be healthy, candidates must never have been pregnant, candidates must not be men who have sex with other men. All of the women I’m with are mothers. They turn to me.
Your body has betrayed you. Your body, infection’s vessel. Your body, a tangled question. My body from your body from a bloodied body. My body, a vessel of infection. My body speaks in questions. I am tangled in infection’s vessel. My body has betrayed you.
A platelet is a tiny, colorless cell fragment found in our blood. It’s made within the marrow of the bone. As a boy, I remember my father sucking marrow from bones at the dinner table. Thrombocytopenia is the name of the condition that’s given when a body has a severely low count of blood platelets. Juan Luis is the name my father gives me at birth. Without platelets in the body, blood does not clot. A wound can bleed and bleed and bleed. I am the knife that cuts my father.
In a private room at the hospital’s blood bank, I answer the questionnaire honestly, afraid that a lie could further complicate my dad’s condition. It’s been a year since my last blood test. I ask if they can try my blood first, if there’s any way they can take it and test it, and I’m denied. No. They say no. You are not a candidate. You are not a donor. Back in the room with my family, I make up a lie about why I was disqualified as a donor. My sister covers for me. We don’t know anyone in Guadalajara. His platelet count continues to drop. Every sigh is a blood moon.