Stop bleeding          said the knife.
I would if I          could said the cut.
Stop bleeding          you make me messy with this blood.
I’m sorry          said the cut.
Stop or          I will sink in farther said the knife.
Don’t          said the cut.
The          knife did not say it couldn’t help it but
it          sank in farther.
If          only you didn’t bleed said the knife I wouldn’t
have          to do this.
I know          said the cut I bleed too easily I hate
that I          can’t help it I wish I were a knife like
you and          didn’t have to bleed.
Well          meanwhile stop bleeding will you said the knife.
Yes you          are a mess and sinking in deeper said the cut I
will have          to stop.
Have you          stopped by now said the knife.
I’ve almost          stopped I think.
Why must you          bleed in the first place said the knife.
For the same          reason maybe that you must do what you
must do said          the cut.
I can’t stand                 bleeding said the knife and sank in farther.
I hate it too said         the cut I know it isn’t you it’s
me you’re lucky to be       a knife you ought to be glad about that.
Too many cuts around         said the knife they’re
messy  I don’t know how          they stand themselves.
They don’t said the cut.
You’re bleeding again.
No I’ve stopped said the cut          see you are coming out now the
 blood is drying it will rub          off you’ll be shiny again and clean.
If only cuts wouldn’t bleed          so much said the knife coming
out a little.
But them knives might become          dull said the cut.
Aren’t you still bleeding a          little said the knife.
I hope not said the cut.
I feel you are just a little.
Maybe a little but I can          stop now.
I feel a little wetness still          said the knife sinking in a
little but then coming out a          little.
Just a little maybe just enough          said the cut.
That’s enough now stop now do    you    feel better now said the knife.
I feel I don’t have to bleed to      feel I      think said the cut.
I don’t I don’t  have to       feel said       the knife drying now
becoming shiny.

From The Complete Love Poems of May Swenson. Copyright © 1991. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.