In one version of the story, I find you by way of several minor accidents.
There was a girl in high school who would tell us look for the guys who drive stick.
It means they know what they’re doing.
Ask them for a ride, she’d say. Make them show you.
That winter two boys nearly died speeding down the town’s back roads.
That winter I bent over a boy in his borrowed car.
His became the first body I studied besides my own.
Alone after I would reach for the electric toothbrush, the wooden spoon, and search for the places he lit for a moment, then darkened.
I thought myself the only animal in a frozen city full of men, but I was wrong.
I thought I’d starve, but I was wrong.
October 21, 2016
I spent last night in the kitchen sharpening knives.
They’re the only weapons I keep in my home.
Using them once brought me comfort, Naomi.
The steel and palm rocking over the stalks, dividing carrot from top.
Last year, there was another night I spent alone in the kitchen.
I intuited my way around each dark shape.
I reached for the heaviest knife first: the one I use to cleave the chicken’s back, the onion’s skull.
Thief! writes Sexton when she hears of Plath’s suicide.
What did you stand by, just how did you lie down into?
(Like her I longed for night’s recipe.
The way my mother wrote in the margins you learn where to find the roaster’s spine first by touch.)
I lifted the steel just for a moment.
I felt my hand returning it to the block unworked.
My white arm flashing in the night as it searched for the door.
(I see now we store him up year after year, Sexton writes, old suicides.)
Last night, Naomi, I told the heaviest knife I forgive you.
I said it a hundred times: once for each strike against the sharpening rod.
Later I slipped the brightened blade under my pillow.
I slept like the dead until dawn.
-- Rachel Mennies is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, the 2014 winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry and finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, and the chapbook No Silence in the Fields. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches at Loyola University, and is a member of AGNI’s editorial staff.