Poem of the Week

The Threat of Being Cut Is Constant

Christopher Kondrich

The threat of being cut is constant. You are immersed in it

even when the swather isn’t near. It would prune the skin on your fingers

if you had skin, had fingers, if you could linger

in a bath for too long. Instead of bathwater, the memory

of prior mowing, the fear that when you surpass

a certain height or grow a panicle of any kind, you will be shorn,

made fodder. It gets inside the grammar

of what makes you grass, leaves a chemical mark

on your genes, though this isn’t perceivable,

not on a cellular level. You aren’t changed so much

as you pass the change on, epigenetically, to the blades

and rhizomes of new grass. Are they your children

or an extension of you? Tell me there is a difference.

Tell me that when I plucked you verbless from the rest,

fit you between my thumbs and blew, vibrating

the piece of your body pressed there, that it was not me

whistling, but you singing, you were singing.

Christopher Kondrich is the author of Valuing, a winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for the Believer Book Award, and Contrapuntal. He is a recent MacDowell Fellow, and his new poems appear in The Paris Review and New England Review.
Originally published:
October 19, 2022

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