Poetry Archive


Why She Likes Knives

Maureen Hynes

Because of their intricacy, how they pocket
their blades into narrow compartments, their forge
and hinge and swivel, the perfect eighth moon
scored into the blade for her fingernail.
Because of their power -- their end-over-end spin
through the air, their love of hiding, their love of flashing:
how they bring hard right up close to
soft. Their utter usefulness and ingenuity: the horn handle,
the hoof handle, the polished rosewood, the red plastic,
the ivory and the brass. The care and oiling,
the sharpening stone they require.

A living-room full of knives, scattered
on end tables and speaker tops:
The flensing knife, the paring knife, the scimitar,
the handsome French knife especially for brie, the knife
from Azerbaijan, the pink-and-green handled one
from Tibet, the Uighyir blade and its carved sheath.
Vulcan and Diana, the power of sharpened metal
comes to her in the blade's heel and grind,
its tang beneath the handle and the handle's hilt.

The lost knife, the first in her childhood, the pearl-handled
two-bladed one whose blade kept slipping out, unhinged.
The knife that skins. The knife at the table, the surgeries
required in her life. But mostly the opening, the snapping
closed again, the sliding into a pocket and feeling
the metal through her clothes against her skin, warming.
Mostly holding the knife to admire it, new: a knife
with no history except its own making, newly folded.



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Maureen Hynes is a Toronto poet whose book, Rough Skin, received the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first collection of poetry in 1995. Her second book of poetry, Harm's Way, apeared from Brick Books in the spring of 2001. With Ingrid MacDonald, she co-edited we make the air: the poetry of Lina Chartrand in 1999. She has also written Letters from China, a memoir of her teacher training experiences in Chengdu, China (Women’s Press, 1981). Her poetry has appeared in journals across Canada and Australia, as well as in many anthologies. Maureen is poetry editor for Our Times magazine and the journal Atlantis, and she is community college faculty member.



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