Curtis Bauer

If This is What it Takes

The knife in your hand wants flesh.
Its appetite for blood is sharp steel
leaning, weeping into the tomato’s meat,
sugar beets, steaming rhubarb pie and hunts
that juice etching your hands, pulsing
your neck and shifting your hips. You
slice, you bleed, you leak into pools bubbling
the countertop, over the scuffed linoleum
to the stainless steel sink and anoint the potato
peelings, onion skins and apple rinds.
Make your salad before rot sets in
and that side of you that turns my head
after we’ve parted on the street
to watch your steps escapes. You come to me
squeezing your bleeding as if it were a gift,
as if the more you bled the better you’d feel
offering your invitation to join the thin red
sliver seething and throbbing your hands
into mine. Beautiful bleeder, my hands
never held holy powers until they entangled yours.
A blade, I understand its language. Give me
the knife and press its edge here. Pull.

Curtis Bauer
“If This is What it Takes” is from The Real Cause for Your Absence (C&R Press, 2013).