Katherine Fallon

Virus Chaser

They wouldn’t take my blood because I’d shared
a toothbrush with someone with HIV (okay, fine,
we had sex once, but she was stone and so the odds

she would give me anything were slim, and anyway,
later I stopped believing she was sick at all when
she introduced me to her parents, who she’d told me

months earlier were dead). That night, she passed out,
ready for me to go, and I used the toothbrush, needing
to violate her distance somehow, leave myself there,

take her with me, however that might look. That was all
so long ago the cheek swabs—compulsive and fearsome
as pregnancy tests—are mere breadcrumbs. Anymore,

my blood is good and I know my type, but even those
who are desperate have never wanted my eggs, costly
pearls of the lady gut. These days it’s cloaked in too old,

dried up, but it used to be a brain thing: no market
for the brand of sick I am, complete with an acronym
and a spreadsheet of failed chemicals. I used to think

that being smart, being beautiful, having many talents
might make me worth something, but look at me then,
look at me now: I can’t even give myself away.


Katherine Fallon is the author of The Toothmaker’s Daughters (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Colorado Review, Juked, Meridian, Foundry, and Best New Poets 2019, among others. She shares domestic space with two cats and her favorite human, who helps her zip her dresses.

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