Penknife

By 
Ellie Sawatzky

I don’t remember much
of the train, but I remember William

who gave me his engraved
penknife at the station

that spring in Pisa. Jordan
at the other end

in Genoa. Late afternoon,
a lemon light heavy

in the courtyards, seaport
spiny with sailboats. La Superba,

the precarious sorbet scoop
of hillside villas. We were still

children scaling fire escapes,
the city’s proud history lost on us.

I said his story or hers? Showed
my teeth. Shook my hair to the wind

like a Siren. In our hotel room,
the penknife under my pillow,

Jordan asleep on the floor, spooning
nothing. The next day

by the harbour, some fishermen
followed me, hissing,

and I gripped the knife, but Jordan
defended me, fists ready, and later

we laughed it off. On the prow
of a replica pirate ship, sun slicing

into the sea. Somehow
I wasn’t safe. I wanted not to want

William’s knife, or need it, his name
a weight in my pocket. Jordan

handling the flesh of my waist
while the sky turned red

then erased. Even now
it’s hard to remember it

as mine. My waist. My name
for a girl who sang them in

and let them stake their claim.

Ellie Sawatzky is a poet, fiction writer, childcare provider, and teacher from Northwestern Ontario. Her poetry and prose have appeared across North America with Room, The Puritan, Prairie Fire, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, the anthology Best New Poets 2014, and others. Her poem "Finlandia" won second place in FreeFall Magazine's annual poetry contest in 2016. You can find her at www.elliesawatzky.com. This poem is part of the No Comment project.


More Writing from the No Comment Project

No Comment by Alessandra Naccarato
Erase and Rewind by Meghan Bell
White house, where some family lived upstairs by Chelene Knight
Loyalty and Violence by Ruth Daniell
Burning Bridges by Joelle Barron
Penknife by Ellie Sawatzky
for play by Kayla Czaga
back, cover by Elaine Corden
Sex Work Solidarity as Healing by Amber Dawn
I Was Once That Girl by Jen Sookfong Lee
On Receiving Bad News by Mallory Tater
The Disappearing Woman by Leah Horlick
Boys Will Be Boys by Dina Del Bucchia
Nicomekl River by Claire Matthews
Knowing Better by Anonymous
Monster by Mikiko Galpin
Reframing the Montréal Massacre by Maureen Bradley
Testimony, Part X by Anonymous
Broken Heart Emoji, Crystal Ball Emoji, Stars Emoji by Kyla Jamieson
Bits by Carleigh Baker
Metamorphosis 6: 401-674: A Paraphrase in Still Pictures by Annick MacAskill
black pearls by Jónína Kirton
Not Yet by Juliane Okot Bitek
Sei Turni (6 spells for #CanLit) by Amber Dawn

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