The Knife

By Jean Valentine b. 1934 Jean Valentine
In my sleep:
Fell at his feet         wanted to eat him right up   
would have         but
even better
he talked to me.

Did I ask you to?
Were those words my blood-sucking too?

Now I will have a body again
move differently, easier         back to the plan   
a little house         a woman and a man

crossed against yours my soul will show   
glow through my breastbone:
Back down into the kitchen
yours

Here         I will save you
others have failed, even died, but I
will save you         you save me         devour me away   
up

Woke up:
I can cry but I can't wake up
today again         don't answer the door   
then did         couldn't look at you talk
couldn't place the bed in the room, or where the room was   
when I closed my eyes

This is the same old knife         my knife
I know it as well as I know my own mouth   
It will be lying there on the desk if

I open my eyes I will know the room very well
there will be the little thrown-out globe of blood we left   
and every molecule of every object here will swell   
with life. And someone will be at the door.


Jean Valentine, “The Knife” from Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003. Copyright © 2004 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 (Wesleyan University Press, 2004)

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Poet Jean Valentine b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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