The Library of Congress

 
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Poem Number 111

Here's a new way to look at scissors.

The Kitchen Shears Speak

Christianne Balk

This division must end.
Again I'm forced to amputate
the chicken's limb; slit the joint,
clip the heart, snip wing from back,

strip fat from flesh, separate
everything from itself. I'm used,
thrown down by unknown hands,
by cowards who can't bear to do

the constant severing. Open and close!
Open and close. I work and never tell.
Though mostly made of mouth, I have no voice,
no legs. My arms are bent, immobile

pinions gripped by strangers. I fear
the grudge things must hold.
I slice rose from bush, skin from muscle,
head from carrot, root from lettuce,

tail from fish. I break the bone.
What if they join against me,
uncouple me, throw away one-half,
or hide my slashed eye? Or worse,

what if I never die? What I fear
most is being caught, then rusted rigid,
punished like a prehistoric
bird, fossilized, and changed

into a winged lizard, trapped while clawing
air, stuck in stone with open beak.

 

from Bindweed, 1985
Macmillan Press

Copyright 2001 by Christianne Balk.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).