They jab the needle in and they say they’re only sucking a small sample of my
blood, but they always sneak a chunk of my soul as well. That’s what they’re really 
after. They set you up for it by giving you things: vaccines from the time when you’re a
baby, then drugs that might help you, or saline for hydration after an op, even blood
from another person. It’ll be a stranger and they say the stranger’s blood will save your
life. All that giving sets you up, so you don’t notice too much when they ask if they can
have a sample, that they need to do a blood test. You go along with it. Well I do,
anyway. But I think it’s a weird kind of person who’d work in a lab, doing blood tests all
day. In my experience, none of them are that good at it, and if you do something all
day and you don’t get good at it, there’s usually something wrong, somewhere. 

Becoming Well

I want days and days 
and always days 
more than the breath 
coming in 
and the breath 
going out. 
I want to mash them 
like grapes 
ripe purple weeks 
of them – 
luscious underfoot. 


I wear an
electric-green dress
to church
in Rarotonga.
It is the exact
same shade
as the shirts worn by
the choir. 


Kathy McVey is a writer based in sunny Gisborne. She has spent the past year pondering the mind-body connection as it relates to health and illness, and writing poetry about drugs and other obsessions for her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML.

‘Becoming Well’ was written in response to her breast cancer diagnosis in 2005, when her son was two years old.