by Emily Gritzmacher
We’ll never make it to the bone.
At five years old, I wondered
how to spell letters. How do you spell “h” or “u”?
I asked my elders.
In the corners of a classroom,
I sat gouging notebooks, hoping to break
I uncrossed Ts, threw balls from Is,
and smashed Ms into kindling.
My teacher couldn’t answer. Who pulls
the puppetmaster’s strings?
she wondered in private.
When I was little,
I thought making things from scratch
meant making the ingredients:
scraping the earth into troughs,
planting wheat, sprinkling water, grinding flour,
picking sugar cane
I still catch myself thinking
using store-bought flour is cheating.
Levine’s angel butcher1
wields his cleaver to
dissect a child like a flower
After the butcher’s legs finish
jumping and twitching
he’ll notice he can’t
remove fog from the boy’s
He can’t filet and cook
Capture a firefly in a mason
to admire and examine its glow.
As hours pass and it flickers fast
its battery will die and
your room will be dark.
The bug will be dead
in a jar that smells of spaghetti
and you still won’t know how
it broke the dark.
1Levine, Philip. “Angel Butcher.” New Selected Poems. New York: Knopf Doublesday, 2011. Print.