★ ★ ★ ★



I handed you the knife
“Start here.” I gestured to my chest.
And you began
digging the blade into gentle flesh
curls of cedar and cypress
peeling in ribbons

“Do you like it like this?”
“Deeper,” I replied
as I fell in cascades to the floor
shreds and pulp and sawdust
Beauty becoming. Love unfurling.

The cold steel hot on my neck
a cautery of branching nerves
blood pulsing in sequence with dulling senses
“He loves me. He loves me not.”

You chip away at my form
a living sculpture of your making
Rivulets of wood revealed
in a stream of doubt and dismay
and anything, anything, I’ll do anything
for you.

The metal meets less resistance now
my flesh pared and scraped away
soft belly gone, tender heart pulsing and exposed
In the mirror I stand, naked and small
the woman I once loved, gone
I do not know this ragged creature
hunched before me

Kaitlin A. Williams is an American poet capturing snapshots of life lived in the deep south. Her work has previously been featured in the Looking at Appalachia Project and she is a past recipient of the Katherine B. Rondthaler Award for Poetry. A graduate of Salem College, she made her foray into a career in Finance in 2013 and has brought poetic chaos to the office ever since.


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