Night Cook's Day Off

Daddy always said: Respect
your tools, but keep a little fear.

The sixth-grade cheerleaders wave from the fire truck
roaring past: Mister Ron! I graded their spelling tests
last night. Disbelief: my fingertip

clipping neatly off.

Don’t look at my hand, I hiss at gaping
diners, slipping on blood I can’t cup,
kicking into the kitchen toward the sink.
You asshole! screams the manager. Look
at my floor! Why did you come through the front?

I tried out back, banged the door but no
restaurant boss ever answers, unless he wants his head
blown off. Tap water spikes open the wound.
Blood on the dishes, dotting a path, marking
the back door. I can see inside myself—

oozy meat, gray flap barely hinged—

not lost in the shiny pyracantha,
skewered on some thorn, but still with me.
Can they save it? It’s this, not the blood,
that scares. Oh skin, oh flesh,
oh nerves. How I’ve ruined you. I wanted
to try my hand at something I loved.

:: Ron Mohring, Touch Me Not (2005)

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