It’s unfair how happy my kids are most days,
unlimited laughs at the sink, foamy mouths,
rainbow toothbrushes and grunting ages.
Unbridled as wild horses let loose
on a fenceless field of apple trees
for wide-open roam. They spur and stomp
their unbound feet from the back seat.
Even a furrowed look is not enough
to bring them down. They’re rude at dinner
but never notice, none better
than silverware set to the wrong side.
The knife facing out, cutting sensibilities
just by being there. I could pick it up,
pry off their horseshoes, but as luck would have
it, rain would…
In the beginning, we had a CD player,
and we stood on the train platform at Belmont,
sharing earbuds, listening to Warning Sign
before we knew we’d marry each other.
It wasn’t the last thing we’d share,
just the two of us in a new world
now bigger than our own bodies,
smiling and dancing and laughing
jumping into the diners, ridding the sheets
of midnight spiders. For so long
you eat alone and then someone else is there
to share the cutting board and dirty dishes.
The only game in this one life is to make
and keep our promises…
On a joyful morning, you can trim
tray liners for a tool chest
when a Blue Ridge box cutter
slips bone-deep and decisive.
With nowhere to put the peeling slash,
you jab that rugged throb in your mouth,
smash the gash against your teeth,
throat a rivulet of your own.
Wrap it tight with cotton and tape,
fumble the levers to cleave free the tangle,
weigh the dash to darkened doors
where hands on the be-back-later sign
stand as still as a sandhill crane.
You didn’t ask for this cut. You didn’t ask
for this death that arrives from nowhere
despite your best caution, rakes you deep,
so deep you taste old blood on the inside
and the only way to heal is with time and air.
© Trapper Markelz 2021
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Husband. Father of four. Poet. Cyclist. Musician. Sci-fi enthusiast. Writes from Boston, MA. His work has appeared in Loose Words, Baltimore Review and others.