The Butcher Knife

Not once did I see one used for butchering.
The wooden handle firm in the grasp,
the broad, long edge, serrated ominously,
quite capable of rending limb from torso,
or a small head from a shuddering spine.

No, the fame of these kitchen implements
was their use by neurotic aunties,
stepmothers too jealous and easily provoked,
old wives at the end of married tether.

Medea in slippers and terrycloth,
red-eyed from onion chopping,
she waved it aloft in a shrieking rage, or,
worse by far, swung it in stone-eyed silence.

She could chase and corner a terrified
stepchild (while her own, better daughter
watches from the stairwell landing),
or send the man hurtling to corner tavern.

In the right hands, this most domestic
of kitchen tools clears any house
of inconvenient relatives,
of the need for cooking and mending,

a Pennsylvania Gothic sword
that never needs sharpening.


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