Poetry

The Mincer

Fitting the handle to the twisting blades
of what might be stomach or heart, is a feat.

When it’s fully assembled the heavy innards
can be viewed through the gape in the head.

A screw buttons the rings of the mouth. Once
the table’s in its grasp, thanks to metal wings,

anyone can see the mincer is not to be messed with.
It’s as familiar with holding back as the black dog

with two heads, has never heard of the country
of perhaps. Neither subtlety nor beauty

are words in its language—there are half a dozen
for mastication. I manage to avoid this character now

but once I saw it being packed on Wednesdays
with dry chunks cut from the Sunday roast

and watched it force out squiggles of meat
that were miserable as the drizzle at the window.

Every scrap was cut, every scraping saved.
Time was devoured by shelling, mincing, peeling.

Oh yes, the mincer, exhibiting its body parts,
lurked beneath the shiny surface of my childhood.

It meant hot red punishment dug into the palm
of the hand as the mulish handle resisted.

It meant becoming a woman was to be clamped
to kitchen, mangle and ironing board. It meant

the boredom of dusters, joylessness—and not
even a shelf for the self to bloom. It meant

lying in bed wishing irons to rust, dusters
to die, and promising myself I’d never mince.

Myra Schneider

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