I set you free that night, father. When you came back in that yellow Volkswagen, in that dream. I made a boat of honor for you. Woven of poems and words and not words. I set it on the ocean. Father Obuna said to me, a gift is freely given and a gift is freely returned. It has taken me thirty years to understand
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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.
Chris Abani is the author of There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), illustrated by Percival Everett and Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). He is a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.