A day like any other, and I am a warrior
out to slay the armored butternut squash
that has stood bold and unafraid,
mocking me in the confines of my own kitchen
for far too long.
Preparations for the execution are minimal, to say the least;
the most basic serrated knife,
tucked among the dulled, less worthy blades of the utensil drawer,
for just such an occasion.
Warnings come from more experienced folk
to be wary of the squash’s hide,
so thick, so tough.
“Do not trust the serrations alone;
the angle and strength will determine your
Be diligent. Be ready.”
But I am confident and naive,
my pride is strong enough to take on such a foe as this, surely.
Weapon steadied, my victim held fast
against the unforgiving slab of vinyl counter-top.
Oh, how unrehearsed am I
for this unpredictable adversary,
so devious and unruly at the sight of its utter demise.
A final flail of protest sends the
knife’s edge skimming across its skin
and driving like butter through my own.
The prisoner, with nowhere to escape, nohow to survive,
lies rocking, still mocking,
underneath the dripping crimson faucet
that is my half-scalped thumb.
The first wave that hits me is simple shock at such defeat;
then comes the pointless feather-faint
while pain creeps slowly upstream
from the flowing blood, lost in dribbles
upon the pale laminate of the floor.
Let the trivial spinning settle,
and the next step takes me over the inanimate gourd corpse,
and across the now vast expanse of my apartment,
reaching for the hall closet
and the saving graces of hydrogen peroxide and the last of our Power Rangers Band-Aids.
Apparently a half-inch gash leaves too many blood vessels open
for the Power Rangers to handle alone,
so off to the kitchen again and a nice wad of paper towel
and electrical tape,
at just the right angle to align the severed walls of flesh,
will have to suffice for now.
There are more important concerns at hand,
like what to do with the pristine and flouting butternut squash,
the tainted, ginger polka dots smeared across its humbled carcass,
a reflection of its final taunt.
In my contemplation of what new tool I should use
to dispose of the body with the proper vengeance
in defying my will to a fresh-made soup dinner –
the hammer in the cabinet, perhaps, or a drop from the third floor would do nicely –
the glint of the blood catches my eye, and I am paused.
I look to the red-run gauze around my finger,
the rose lacing through fibers of white.
The pain has subsided,
at least to what point pain can be subdued by will alone.
And this, I feel, is a comfort.
The cut is hidden; I could tell my eyes anything
about what they just witnessed those fateful minutes ago,
and illusion from the truth under the bonds.
More tape would avert my gaze from the seeping wound
and what it yields to the outside world
of my body.
A little pill would be all it takes
to remove all immediately conscious realization
that I am injured.
To make me feel better about myself
and my defeat to the butternut squash?
What is gained from running from pain?
And what is gained from enduring it?
We feel, do we not?
Do we want to feel like we’re head-deep in chinchilla fur for
all our lives?
Or do we want to know what a needle under the skin feels like
every once in a while?
Another glance toward my feet,
and I no longer see a defiant enemy,
but simply what remains of my human folly.
I lift up the fallen fruit… vegetable… thing,
it’s perch of observation and humorous judgment.
I will order sushi tonight,
and sit content with a good book,
the slight throb of my heartbeat in my finger,
and celebrate the solemn and soothing reminder
that I am here
and I feel.