Such a simple word. Brutal to begin, quick
to end. Glad of the distance between us
I study it. A ship run aground in a glass case,
its blade narrowing beautifully to a curved keel.
Then the handle, heavy as a church pew, wood worn
in two places from practised hands of a headsman.
I picture a neck exposed, pink sinews propped
like a stick of snapped rhubarb gleaming with sugar
beads for a few seconds, before boards darken,
splinters stained again with a body spilled over.
I study it, the opposite of a lung or a bicycle
or a wildflower, and am reminded of the wail
of a child being left by her mother. A front door closing
as a silvered edge. An unchartered place called severance.
(17th century Axe, used for executing criminals in St Andrews, St Andrews Museum, Fife)
Olga is from Northern Ireland. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Paper Swans Press, Magma, Ink Sweat and Tears, Under the Radar and Reflex fiction. She is a teacher and has two young children. @olgadermott