My irregular heart and a random spider

This morning I was searching for a file and came across an old poem of sorts. I read it and felt again when I had felt then. I am happy to publish prose, but I find myself very reluctant to put up a poem. So, in the interests of overcoming this anxiety, here it is. (For non-lovers of half-baked poetry there is a photo below of a charming spider I saw the other day. Name?)

My Irregular Heart

You’re eighteen now,
old enough to give blood, my father said.
So I did.
In some years lovers delayed me,
or babies distracted me,
or illness prevented me.
Still, pint by pint I shared a little of myself
and always felt better as I left.

Today the nurse spoke kindly,
we can’t take your blood anymore,
I’m so sorry, but
‘Heart, irregular’ is on our list.
You’ve done well –
forty-seven donations,
I’m sorry you did not reach your fifty.

So I walked my irregular heart
out of the building,
and took it home to contemplate
no longer contributing,
no longer belonging to the giving population.
I have walked to the other side of the equation
And found there,
an unexpected sense of loss.


19 thoughts on “My irregular heart and a random spider

  1. Important things first – the spider is probably a Raft spider, Dolomedes fimbriatus. What a disappointment not to make the half century but I doubt if many people have reached 47! I can’t give blood and that’s a shame as I have one of the rarer blood groups. Don’t feel a sense of loss, feel a sense of achievement.

    • Thank you Andrew, I was hoping you would give him/her a name. Thank you also for the comfort, I am glad of the years I gave. This is some years in the past now and I am fit and well (with a benign irregularity), yet forever banned from donating.

  2. I can really identify with this, and it was beautifully expressed. I give blood, and occasionally I’m rejected on the basis of very mild anemia, and I feel huge disappointment for not being able to donate. Disappointment out of all proportion to the rejection, because I will probably be able to donate next month. I can’t explain why I feel like that about it, but this poem expressed the emotion really well.

    I’ll leave the spider identification to someone else, although it is a beauty.

  3. You know Hilary I never gave blood before.
    I have perfect health. And it’s not that I am scared by needles or blood.

    Go figure why I never did. My wife does although she forgets sometimes that a blood clinic is on.
    Guess I have a good reason to do it now.
    When I will give blood the first time I will think of you.

    • Thank you, that’s wonderful. I shall sleep well, knowing that, in due course, you will make up my 50 and even perhaps more. Though you may find they that won’t take it for a variety of reasons, they are very fussy both on your behalf and the prospective patient’s, which I have to admit is really a good thing.

      • 50 is my first goal…
        and you know I will do it.
        I will keep in touch.

      • Let’s view this as a sort of camaraderie that you find in wars. People looking for each other.

      • First…
        Tuesday, June 3

        CASERNE DE POMPIERS 200, boul. Ducharme

        My father, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were all firemen.

      • I was not able to make it. Something came up.
        But I am the person who keeps his promise.

        When I give blood, you will be the first to know after the nurse.


  4. I really must try to remember Andrew’s identified name Dolomedes Fimbriatus it freaks people out when I remember things like that. I knew an Axolotyl in a quiz the other week because of Sooty’s A-Z of animals 🙂 and everyone was like how did you know that? “Biology at school” I said 😀 he he

  5. Hi Hilary,

    I have been meaning to reply to you about this post, which I found so touching,especially after your explanation. That sense of loss is palpable, and it is such an original way to consider loss. Hope you can find a replacement, though it seems as though you have already done a lot of giving to date.

    And re: the Bordrer Line title episode – any resolution?

    Greetings from Paris – I must find time to blog again soon.

    love Paul x


    • Thanks Paul. I was really surprised how much I minded. My father always connected blood donations with prison camp. He also said that it was the only true form of charity. Pierre (see above) has generously promised to make up my fifty – true comradeship across the web. So I’m glad I overcame the embarrassment of putting up so-so poetry. Border Line remains the title and I am, oh so slowly, going through the self-publishing process. I wish I was in Paris!

  6. It’s a lovely poem, Hilary. Not so-so in the least; I’m glad you shared it. The compassion of your gift, though expressed in a low-key and restrained way, really shines through and is palpable, as another commenter said. As a person who has received a blood donation, I have to thank you on yet another level, for your kindness and willingness to help your fellow human without thought of recognition or reward. Bravo!

    • Thank you so much, Leigh, for your understanding comment. There seems to be so little one can contribute to alleviate the suffering of others, that it is disconcerting to find your one contribution no longer acceptable (for good reasons, I am sure).

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