Momentary Lapses

This blog was created during a momentary lapse, a period when I'm stuck in my writing and trying to jog something loose in my brain or push myself so close to deadline that I can kill, without remorse, the beloved opening or headline or quote that is keeping me from moving forward. Most of my posts here will have to do with writing, including occasional Favorite Writing Quotes (FWQs). Please share yours, and your comments, too.

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Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Monday, March 03, 2008

Got Blood?

Jan Brogan at was kind enough to describe this blog as both humorous and profound. Certainly, there is a long literary tradition of the two going hand-in-hand, from the Satires of Juvenal (nope, can't quote any) to Jane Austen, Mark Twain and Erma Bombeck. I can't always live up to Jan's billing, but this piece is one I delivered last month at the Red Cross Apheresis Blood Donors dinner. I hope you enjoy it and--for mystery writers, in particular--consider giving back some of the blood you spill on your pages.

The Wall
By Maureen Walsh

Another day at the spa in my big comfy seat,
No laundry to fold as I watch the TV,
No telephone calls interrupting my reading,
No kids calling “Mom!” No dog needing feeding.
Warm blankets, cold beverages, baskets of food—
All for the price of some donated blood.
Now I’m done for the day, getting set to depart;
The donor specialist makes a note in my chart.
“Shall we schedule your next donation?” she says,
And all the reasons “Not To” run through my head:

My schedule’s uncertain, I can’t pick a date.
Between work and my family, there’s a lot on my plate.
I’ve got meetings and projects and deadlines upcoming,
And a guy dropping by to check out the plumbing.
The house needs a cleaning from attic to basement,
My sluggish computer’s in need of “defragment.”
My kid’s birthday’s next week, so I’ve shopping to do,
And I still haven’t gotten my shot for the flu.
My car’s making a noise that’s got to be checked,
And there’s an elderly neighbor I mustn’t neglect.
I should call when my calendar’s not quite so full...

But before I can say it, I notice—The Wall:

The pictures of people, every age, shape and size,
Their smiles bright with courage and hope in their eyes.
I read all their names, I read every story,
And two words that seem to be written just for me:
“Thank you” and “Thank you” and “Thank you” again,
Like each one has reached out and shaken my hand
And said “Thank you for donating platelets today,
So I could go shopping, so my daughter could play,
So my husband could walk with me down to the beach,
So the small pleasures of living are still within reach.”

“Thank you for energy, stamina, strength,
For a life that is richer, no matter the length,
Because of the gift you have given us here,
Because you didn’t wait till your schedule was clear.
Thank you for making the time to keep coming,
Despite birthdays and deadlines and clogs in the plumbing.
We know your time’s precious, and we treasure each hour
Of living you give us by sharing the power
Of plasma and platelets and red cells and more,
Of the elixir of life we can’t get from a store.
We can’t grow it or mix up a chemical brew,
So thank you for sharing the gift that is You.”

With their faces and voices filling my head,
I smiled at my friend with the chart and I said,
“I want to make 20 donations before the year ends,
And what’s more, I’ll work on bringing my friends.
I’ll reschedule today, so you don’t have to call.
I can always make time for my friends on The Wall.”