I bought a knife to have a knife. People
kept telling me
you must always have a knife.
They said: you can get one with a handle
carved with rubies
or the rarest pearls—your choice.
Sixteen sugar packets. Yes, I counted.
I am alone
only one lifetime each day.
Yesterday was three earth-bruised tomatoes
the day before
twenty-seven cubes of ice.
Not the vagrant limping into traffic
honk and swerve, but the woman
who watches, bites her bottom lip and waits
then draws him up
from the curb when he gets there.
The myths tell us no one wants to cross paths
with a shaman
when that shaman is angry.
They do not say shamans get easily
no one crosses paths with them.
The doctor says I am too sick to rise.
I fear I will
miss everything. A horse comes
to tell me I’ve missed nothing. He isn’t
handsome but I
crave him: his tension, his neck...
Side-by-side an old gypsy places them
on her table
before me: “The black one helps
to remember. The white one to forget.
This gray one is
useless. Carry it always.”