I’ve been watching your hands
for weeks, watching the rain gather
its woolen shawl around the house,
while you sharpen tools, lay them out
and show me—gut hook, drop point, skinner, priest—
what they can do, test each honed blade,
run the edge above your arm, close to skin,
just close enough that tiny hairs bend or fall.
When I was a girl, a boy showed me a knife
of steel I couldn’t believe, though he insisted
it was real, dared me to touch it.
I pressed my thumb to check its sharpness, certain
it was fake. I bled. The cut and sting
fine as the stream of water
he then held my hand in, so cold
it made me ache. What are we but sinew
and synapse, a system’s grim accumulation,
but softer? Soon, you will slit
the belly, you will enter with cupped hands
to loose the windpipe and split
breastbone, the structure falling
around the heart’s muscled knot. I know
you will work quickly, not to staunch the wound
but to bleed the body, to keep the meat, the hide,
will lay the body out, bless the knives—you, who cup my face
gently, who drag your fingers
through my hair, until I bend
or fall beside you.
Copyright © Persea Books 2015
Used with permissions of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.