Poem 2

THE BUTCHER’S APPRENTICE                     Hawai’i Pacific Review, 2006

First he showed him how to hold the cleaver,

where to make the best cut,

said to keep his eye on the meat’s grain,

hold the blade steady,

and how beautifully the meat opened

on the maple chopping block,

gracious host to its own body,

the apprentice wiping his bloodied hands

across his heavy cotton apron;

his sigh, such finesse,

a sigh a lover might make,

satisfied before ultimate

pleasure—but, no climax here,

only the calm of knowing

one did the other body right,

and can’t you tell

that the one being trained

seeks the best advice to finish meat,

especially since fine butchery is nearly extinct,

for why else

would the Master train

the hand coming back to fingers,

to opening, carefully at first,

the red flesh that was once desire.

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