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November 15, 2012 | Poetry

Two Poems

Katie Schmid

Two Poems photo

 

The Good Knife

has its own hiding place
in the kitchen underneath
the stainless steel table shining
silver in a box with a lid

it’s there with the good pens that still write
it’s there with the extra rolls of tape
and a calculator
all needing protection

in the dark at night when everyone has gone
home for the day 
when no one can see it

its dreams are a whetstone

it sharpens itself all night long.

The Good Knife

is not alive. this is not one of those
stories about the-hungry-knife-alive.

The Good Knife

is very good for cutting the long cold wire
of unbaked cinnamon rolls. the hand goes up-and-back-up
-and-back with no exertion but the weight
of the wrist and the knife. it is enough, a hundred
rolls, a hundred times enough. enough.

The Good Knife

is very good. The Good Knife is very
good. The Good Knife is
very good. The Good
Knife is

The Good Knife

receives supplicants on certain holidays
the children gather round the hiding place
though they are told it’s nonsense
they hold hands and sing

silent knife
holy knife

until one’s mother who has been out
looking
out in the cold
comes and finds them
breaks them up
and the knife is alone although

that’s just silly

the mom reassures herself

something that never lived
can’t be alone

and the knife is

The Good Knife

is fought over. If the bread men
get it then it will be bent and floury
So the cake women guard it fiercely

Why

one says, suspicious when I say I need it

Why. it’s just a knife
but the sodden smile
of a discarded q-tip
and fever of a thousand thousand
roaches

pain
tears
happiness
death

are nothing
to The Good Knife
existence and purpose
are the same

The Good Knife

will hurt you without knowing it
it can’t think. that’s why it’s so good.

one day, blank nothing and then
something snaking across the table

you didn’t even know it happened
until you saw it sneaking 

away from you, how could it ever have been
yours if you didn’t even feel it coming

out

all that red on the woodblock table
 

 

In the Gothic Love Story Where You Have Died

I keep your body on my bed as a talisman to guard against what comes for me in the night: 
you are my dangerous golem moldering wetly on my pillows.

Absurd that, in the Gothic love story where you have died
you should have mundane practical uses, but there you are:

Your hollow eye sockets do well to hold my quarters, and laundry day becomes easy, merely a matter of scooping the change from your teacup eyes where you have kept it, waiting for me.

Something of your bright bones reflecting in the sun gives the moths a fright, and

In the Gothic love story where you have died, you scarecrow for my sweaters and I save money on mothballs.

In the Gothic love story where you have died,

We play games with your wishbone and always I get the bigger half, which doesn’t matter to you because stealing luck from your own bones is like making a wish on someone else’s birthday candles.

In the Gothic love story where you have died,

You strive to call up the taste of my skin, but have no mouth for it. I imagine that you are still sentient, but cannot talk, still listening, but can no longer speak the language of the living.

You send me ghostly little signals:  the water left to run in the sink bowl means

“I am bleached—the sun is leaching me of my colors like a velvet dress.”

Keys in the refrigerator mean,

“Your boobs look perfect in that sweater.”

And sometimes, in the Gothic love story where you have died,

You speak to me in the language of the dead, which is to say, in dreams, and in the images of dreams, which go something like this:

“bird, the creak of a hinge, bathwater, the wet shell of a cockroach, clavicle, porcelain toilet, monster trucks, wolf spider, open door, green veins of leaves, light through a curtain, light on a stomach, light from a flashbulb, light reflected on a toaster, star, star, star, star, egg.”

One day, in the Gothic love story where you have died,

You are given the chance to return to me a full man, with flesh and air to fill your body. Someone has seen our wordless life and taken pity. You try to tell me as I sleep, but the images you send are strange:

“Finger, feather, bundt cake,” you say.

“What?” I say.

“Fat cloud, coffee grounds, dirt,” you add. And then, to drive the point home,

“Cinder. Oar. Smoke. Feet.”

But still I do not understand, and so, am shocked when you are naked making eggs in the kitchen.

In the Gothic love story where you have come alive it is hard to love a man where once you loved a ghost.

The moths come back to follow their bliss and my sweaters are eaten.  My laundry is hill, then mountain, then simply bald fact of the bedroom. When we eat turkey, you steal all the luck.

Sometimes I catch myself touching you too hard, feeling for the old home of your bones under your clothes. And when I sleep, I dream you
skeletal, and the tintinnabulation of your raucous bones is the music of wooden wind chimes.

image: Caleb Curtiss


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