Katy Giebenhain, an American living in Berlin, depicts a ritual that many diabetics undergo several times per day: testing one's blood sugar...

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Katy Giebenhain, an American living in Berlin, depicts a ritual that many diabetics undergo several times per day: testing one’s blood sugar. The poet shows us new ways of looking at what can be an uncomfortable chore by comparing it to other things: tapping trees for syrup, checking oil levels in a car, milking a cow.

Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate

A stabbing in miniature, it is,

a tiny crime,

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my own blood parceled

drop by drop and set

on the flickering tongue

of this machine.

It is the spout-punching of trees

for syrup new and smooth

and sweeter

than nature ever intended.

It is Sleeping Beauty’s curse

and fascination.

It is the dipstick measuring of oil

from the Buick’s throat,

the necessary maintenance.

It is every vampire movie ever made.

Hand, my martyr without lips,

my quiet cow.

I’ll milk your fingertips

for all they’re worth.

For what they’re worth.

Something like a harvest, it is,

a tiny crime.

Katy Giebenhain

Reprinted from “Best of Prairie Schooner: Fiction and Poetry,” University of Nebraska Press, 2001, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is “Good Morning and Good Night”, University of Illinois Press, 2005. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry. “American Life in Poetry” appears Fridays in Northwest Life.