Let me begin. I am 

a Grinder. Bones are what I grind. 


I come from a long line. 


And I haven’t spoken recently 

to a child, but 

I remember 


childhood well – 


remember half cocked, livid, nowhere to climb. 

I mean to come on strong; 


maybe we can get acquainted here. 


You can’t know a man until you know his profession. 

Will you get to know me, boy? Will you 


walk with me while I explain 

how to grind an Englishman? 


In my work 


I don’t use many metal tools 

save a knife to ease the husking; 


instead I push my hands 


at what-was-flesh, unrigging it, 

at huddled masses of unincorporated cells 

and through fluids. 


Where at first they are dead bodies, tangent to my table, 


when I’m halfway through they carpet it 

and run apart through its grooves. 


And then the grinding of the bare bones. 

And then the baking of the white meal, 


alchemy! born 


into bones into 

bread I come (from a long line) from my workshop 




with no remorse Jack 

I am tired though 

and a Grinder is what I am; 


when I go to church my body 

is loose lost fumbling in the blind pew. 


Still you don’t know that my mother asked for no husband, 


and raised me up in this tall thin house; 

suckled me in the nursery down the hall, you must have passed it. 


And I chose to walk the church with a ruddy girl, 


purple pink and dust her skin - 

but you’ve met my wife. You clung to her 

breasts like her own babe, though I think your thoughts were less than filial. 


But you will never know her, never 


work in her as sunrise works in night, 

as my grindstone in bone. 


Jack, Jack. 


I still remember - it’s not easy to forget - 

my mother’s motto, passed to me: 


fee, fie, foe – 


meaning first 

the holding of land 

second the cursing of lovers 


and third, one on whom you’ll have to set your sight, 


someday, Jack, who will 

want you gone.