Binghamton, NY Lonely and a little bored, I used to donate blood every eight weeks at the Red Cross across the street from my studio apartment. Eyes skyward, arm shot straight, I’d sigh as a butterfly needle settled on my skin, its plastic wings drawn to a vein in my forearm: a thin river, ghost blue. And then — warmth. Like an oven turned low, a slow kindling beneath dark winter clothes. Afterwards I’d pocket Oreos, fig bars, a few extra juice boxes for later that night, yet leave feeling lighter, like I’d done something no one could diminish. I still donate here downstate, but last spring, after the butterfly’s sting, I blacked out in a synagogue basement — my soaked back on a gurney as the plastic sack filled. Nowadays I can’t tell who I’m meant to help, or how to help, or if anything really helps anymore, though I guess that’s me feeling lazy and drained while, up north, between two frozen rivers, a version of my youth reenters that waiting room beside a rusted diner and an off-brand department store, lies back, and believes he has so much more to give.