I cut water

with a knife held steadily to the centre of my palm,
by a white strip of cloth wrapped around it
ensuring the handle clung firmly;

these elaborate precautions because you trusted the knife
more than my hand.

Your hand can lose grip in high waves,
and the knife must not be snatched away.
I asked by whom, and the old woman replied:
from ill spirited waves.
But why white?
It is a colour pungent to evil.

Most people wouldn’t understand
the procedures of warding off ailments.
The old woman was a reader of auras,
and she knew well of latching –
these that despised the scents of salt,
the abundance of which saturated the seas.

We boarded the dinghy meant to carry us
to the centre of my cure – surreal medication –
but old women generally knew better
from having walked the planet longer;
the one with me had walked several.

Tip the blade to the water
as we go further, drive the blade deeper
till the shaft is fully immersed.
Cut the water like you would slice
open a vein. Hold your hand steadfast
fighting any urge to be pulled into
the delusively pleading waves tugging at your hand
and listen, instead, to the howling over
the weeping.

A short while later drawing a neat slit
across the face of what seemed like a broad sheet
of sky holding goblets of white lies, I awaited
the howl, the cry, the pine
but all that echoed into the thinness
were sounds of a whimpering motor,
larking of gulls overhead,
and humming of the sea in séance;

silence from
the blurring helm of the docks in the distance
and the whitening of the old woman’s eyes

Previously published in Mediterranean Poetry



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