Rita Dove

Someone’s Blood

I stood at 6 a.m. on the wharf,
thinking: This is Independence, Missouri.
I am to stay here. The boat goes on to New Orleans.
My life seemed minutes old, and here it was ending.

I was silent, although she clasped me
and asked for forgiveness for giving me life.
As the sun broke the water into a thousand needles
tipped with the blood from someone’s finger,

the boat came gently apart from the wharf.
I watched till her face could not distinguish itself
from that shadow floated on broken sunlight.
I stood there. I could not help her. I forgive.