by Kurt Brown
He called it a banana knife, and in fact
it had a long handle made of yellow pearl.
Maybe it was plastic, with wavering panes of clarity
that made it look like pearl. When he swung the blade out—
a narrow length of polished steel—
I thought a knife like that might cut through flesh
and never leave a mark, or even hurt.
So when he flicked it out to snick my arm,
I felt it brush my shirt, as though he only meant
to play a joke. I had to roll my sleeve
to watch a thread of blood outline the slit it made.
Then I noticed how the cloth was cut.
He grinned so that I’d understand
this is what he wanted: my gathering shock,
a flux of blood, however small, from the dead center of my heart.
Kurt Brown’s first full-length collection of poems, Return of the Prodigals, was published by Four Way Books in 1999. He lives with his wife, the poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (2000)