The Butcher

The butcher is bent, gone in the back. When he lifts the knife you see the flashes of the ceiling fan, the hair stirring on the arm, the cocked wrist, and then he brings it down, heavy and precise, to cleave, and for a moment the silver swooped blade is flanked by parting red.

That’ll be nice, Mrs Jones, and he offers a little smile, lifts the flesh as if to examine its life, then wraps it in crinkling paper and, practised, the hand that cuts returns the knife to its cool holster on his old and broken hip, wrapped in a drooping striped apron, smeared and splotched, to show the agony of the day.