The Oldest Verb: To Cleave (in its entirety)

By Stacy Ericson

I want a knife tonight
one that fits my hand
black, balanced, sharpened to a fate
made to slice fat and sinew
in something hungry and dead
I’ll use it light and fast
to cut away the years that stand
between your birth and mine

There’s a deep groove for tears
along the Interstate we didn’t travel
where Destiny counts coup
scalping knives on slick highways
sterile rest areas and truck stop snacks
She tracks the ways we could have come
together but did not
I want revenge for that

How can I love you so
with the knife incise that symbol
on a black and rain wet tree
as you mark me as your own
then lie with me in russet leaves
and make fog rise in and out on air
in fields and subdivisions more blessed
Now carve on me your every fevered plea

Age makes me, my gift, imperfect
before it touches you,
no sharp implement
can take time back or let me stun you now
wit’s first fruits, white skin, smooth hands and face
pomegranates, mango, berries, roses
and new wine,
what I would suffer to make it so, again

For the privilege of surrender, I would give you even this
the body that I have, the time that I have left

Let that wicked blade flay also carrion
fears and doubts that haunt the girl to death,
when I, awakened now, would live on for joy
in finding unexpected, something sweet
to want, you, my mystery, where none
was foreshadowed, where in fact all mysteries
were slain, all shallows known, all deeps imagined,
all fishes fried, all colors named, the last die cast

In one economic motion without regret
I’d slide the knife across the soft sad nape
of my mistakes, sheathe it when you look again
purified
to wear my black dress into our rented room
and ease away the burdens of many morrows
from your skin with oils and water heated in my hand
into this vessel all your pains take
as lovers wished since ever time began

And to be wanted in return, what fortune sweeter
to hold that fire that makes us whole
All lies, all shame, all hidden places let
me in, and I now offer you my last white sheet
pale flesh, my thigh, then fold by fold
you’ll take your joy of me, let one heart beat
one breath, we two carved down
in yearning and in voice to make a single form

One cry between the two of us, a last hot sound
Just this once you’ll let me beg for more
and lie back smiling ‘til further sounds are torn
from your throat and from mine, our flesh still sore and slick
from too much bliss, sweet your shadow on me
cut away all that I cannot taste but crave tonight
the knife again, the Monster can taste my blade too
She-Fate who would not bring you sooner

Lying together I would put the sharp things down
look into your coffee-colored eyes, cry, yes probably,
and repeat this verb
this old Saxon word for both true parts
double-edged joy: to hold so close, to cut and sever
for love means both – delight, our soul’s reunion in the flesh
and parting also, these hours in the rapids flash away,
when lips and fingers meld and sweat cancels thought
Fear is vanquished here, relieved and given flame,
and thereby you, my thane, and I are made anew

From the black and velvet tree I will tattoo your name
I cherish both our breaks and bonds, for each are true
To come inside we peel away and by the kiss we cleave

The Oldest Verb: To Cleave.

I reblogged this a while back from Melissa Hassard’s site, but got selfish and wanted the whole thing, so I’m posting it again in its entirety. You can access Stacy Ericson’s site (the poet) by clicking here

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