The knife-thrower’s wife stands
stranded in danger’s glittery geography.
A paper heart is pinned in sequin
to her breast. She would be afraid
if she could see her husband caress
each knife, mouth her name before aiming.
But the spotlight sews her eyes shut.
“Slut,” he says to himself, “you whore.”
Now she hears them coming, a sound
like bees, a sound of bullets. She
wonders if there is a war somewhere.
Applause. A held-breath pause.
He places his blindfold carefully. He aims
as close to her heart as he can. And then
it is over. She steps forward, sees
her silhouette set out by ice pick,
sword, all manner of sharp things. She
joins hands with her husband. They bow.
She sees he loves his knives more than
he loves life; his, hers, it doesn’t matter.
This is what makes her take her place
again and again, glad for the knives
that need her, that wait to surround her
like a crowd of adoring suitors.
Mekeel McBride is currently employed at Harvard’s United Way and Other Charities. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest and kayak, as well as AGNI 7. (updated 1978)