Sometimes I Would Imagine a Knife
Sometimes I would imagine my arm.
Always my left arm. I would take my
knife, clean and sharp, sweet ivory
carved handle, and I would slice
precise 1 and ½ inch pieces, fingers
to wrist, moving up my arm to my
shoulder. I would survey the burnished
bloody droplets, slipped veins, ripped
muscle—peace. Then eyes sealed,
lid upon lid, eyelash upon eyelash each
skin cell, a bouquet of nerve endings,
anarchy, relief. When I’d open my eyes,
I’d see my arm all of one piece, breathe
in the scent of a funeral, follow the marbled
casket of a nine-year-old girl lowered to dirt.
Glancing above the sycamore tree,
I see the girl floating, white daisies
ascending braided, rusty-boned hair.
I know now, she is me. Arms out-
stretched, she offers her palpating
heart, her white-laced dress dripping
spinning helichrysum, When I take
her heart, I notice purple petals, green
sepals, yellow pistils, all growing
from the palms of our hands. When I look
up, she is gone. In her place, a rotted tree
trunk littered with the entrails of skinned
skunks, putrid leaves and dried red roses,
flaccid and brown at the edges. But that
was then. I have no need for the knife
anymore. Alchemy has turned metal
to something softer, malleable, creative.
Now, when I read about the deaths of Ashlynn Connor,
Rachel Ehmke, Erin Gallagher, Felicia Garcia,
Tiffani Maxwell, Rehtaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott,
Phoebe Prince, Marjorie Raymond, Amanda Todd…
I imagine the sun rising over an unceasing
field of verdigris grasses, illuminated trees
whooshing in the wild and forgiving wind.
In a flood of morning tears, I approach
each girl, the birdsong a reveled resonance
before the train crash, before the bus brakes,
before the red wrists, before the hanged heads,
and I hand each and every girl my knife.
An emerging poet living and writing in California, Alicia Elkort has worked in the film industry for over 16 years and is currently producing a documentary on prayer. She edited and contributed to the chapbook, Creekside, published under the auspices of the Berkeley Poetry Review where she also served as an editor. She earned a B.A. degree in literature from UC Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in Consciousness, Health and Healing. Her poems have appeared in Ishaan Literary Review, Red Paint Hill Quarterly, and Elsewhere Literary Review.