I cut myself last night, a slice not deep but well-placed
like a knotted finger string, center tip of the left index
or pointer, that guiding gun dog of the hand.
It happened as I chopped and spoke, diced and
listened, as she teasingly warned, “Careful. Don’t cut yourself.”
And then, not five minutes after smug riposte, “I don’t cut myself
any more. I’ve been chopping longer than you’re alive,” the eye first,
followed a hair-pin later by stinging prick alarm, ending with
stifled exhale and reflex footing to clear water.
Quick pouring like a scalp wound, I swiftly improvised a napkin
tourniquet, then resumed my chop in plump, papered digit,
slow labor, but serviceable, hidden, blunted, wrapped
crimson seeping like shame, pride and irreverence tucked
under the skin resting on disbelieving bones.
I slipped so quickly to the sink and back, returning
to my task unfazed and fluid, so they wouldn’t see, she
who pronounced my fate and the other who witnessed.
Brushing off the slight speed bump in the banter, I turned
the absorbing wrap growing redder toward me, out of sight.
And soon they left me for work and parties, wounded, hindered
and aching to know, the pain signal, what attention needed
paying, which moment or opportunity squandered.
Today, I press it, that slit in consciousness, right thumb to
left index, cataloguing input–sensory, intuitive and cognitive–
carefully caressing the seconds at my fingertips.