Spring forward

The following poem first appeared in In/Words, an innovative, Ottawa-based literary magazine.


Spring forward

Mom starts carrying a paring knife when a local sex offender gets out of jail. Her life an open book, she announces to the ladies at her potluck club that she—a little wee suburban housewife—is packing heat.

Spring forward; fall back.

How do you learn to fall back? How do you find the language to defend yourself? How do you learn to scream without being pinned to the ground, without having your teeth rammed into a metal water fountain, or without being told you are dirty and unlovable?

Catching wind of the paring knife, Mom’s friend Jane laughs, What are you going to do, peel an apple? Offended, Mom insists that she will track him down, lure him in with a slinky top like she’s looking for it, wait for him to charge at her, kill the friggin’ bastard.

Spring forward; fall back.

When slicing a sweet potato, use a sharp knife. Stabilize the cutting board. Hold steady. Push straight down. Curl your fingers around the target. Slide the blade across the flesh. Slice downward. Continue slicing as desired.

Reasoning with the unreasonable, Mom’s friend Barb points out, Studies show criminals are liable to use the knife on you. Carrying a weapon puts you more at risk. Mom counters that she’ll wait ‘til he’s looking the other direction—wait ‘til he’s distracted—to pull the knife.

Spring forward; fall back.

When peeling an apple, make quick, clean cuts. Use your dominant hand. Wrap your fingers around the knife handle. Slip the knife beneath the skin. Peel the skin downward. Continue until all skin has been detached.

How do you learn to spring forward? How do you learn to wield a knife, to scrape to the bone? How do you learn to pin someone down, to ram their teeth into a metal water fountain, to fight until death?

Spring forward…


The cover image was poached from here.