Untitled (Dexter-Russel 6” Skinning Knife)


A thumb, pressing on my lip,

pulling, sharpness so soft

I cannot tell that I am being rent,

ripped open. There is a hot wind,

in-out-in, in time with the stroke

along my neck, overtop

my sternum, my heart quick.

Her hands are so warm, how

could she mean any harm?

The blade slips down

gentle with my wormling gut,

artful in its arc. It rests

at my pubic mound, sated,

teasing. Tender.

Her fingers start to pry,

spring-time at the leafbud


of my skin. The knife rests

at my flank, and her

warm hands start to dig. I am

a well of dirt beneath the pressure

of her whorls and loops and arches.

She pulls me taught,

as if to bind me to the frame

of her metacarpals, a leather glove.

Her hands are better than the blade,

reaching on the underside

of me, unlatching from my meat, her

hold absolute. My chest in her grip,

so close without my epidermal armor.

I hope she will be kind,

as she has been gentle. The knife

returns. It caresses my shoulder joint,


and I give to her my feverish blood,

which only runs hotter

with her careful attentions. After,

both of us spent, my skin full flayed,

she holds it up, synecdoche & talisman.

I shiver, stripped. Her hands

are still so warm. The thousand tongues

of worms lap at me—she has made me

all open-wound, and left me here. My skin

the only thing that she could hold.

With my soft gut bare and writhing

in the mud, I feel the knife over my back

again, over the missing-thing of me. Pulling

my veins and arteries away, uncovering

the second map beneath the first. In the dirt,

I shudder. I know she will be back.