Poet of an Ordinary Heartbreak

Who hasn’t been tempted by the sharp edge of a knife?
An ordinary knife cutting ordinary tomatoes on
an ordinary slab of wood on an ordinary Wednesday.
The knife nicks, like a bite to the soul. A reminder
that what is contemplated is as real as the blood
sprouting from a finger. As real as a bruised eye.
Instead turn back to the meat stewing on the stove.
Scrape pulpy red flesh into the heat and turn.
Say: even this is a prayer. Even this.


Copyright © 2015 by Chris Abani. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 24, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem from the point of view of my mother. There were sometimes difficult moments between my parents, and I have since wondered how she mediated her pain and anger and what I would have done. It is really about the fact that our most ordinary moments are often poised on the edge of a very deep abyss and that only an uneasy grace keeps us from going over the edge.”
Chris Abani