You Steal the Butcher Knife

because you were never more
than hands to boil the deer skulls,

a tongue to lick the blood that dried
between the creases of his knuckles.

Just bones to grip and flesh to fuck
on whiskey nights when his apartment

stank of you. Only a bale of wheat
left out in late November frost.

You call yourself a shrine, all thumbs
and forefingers and knees that bend

and bruise. You try to pull prayers
from his lips and wipe Gun Scrubber

from his wrists. You are not bait
apples or salt, you say. You’re no wooden shack.

You are sandstone hips, a broadhead,
rawhide skin. A boat-tail bullet.

You do not throw corn. A dull blade
won’t prove it, but you take it anyway.


Alaina Pepin is a middle and high school English teacher in Gold Beach, Oregon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly, the minnesota review, and Dunes Review, among others.