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Katherine Peters-Cook

The words ‘I love you’

are a tool, of course, and a weapon (a weapon of self-defence?) as well as a key being turned, as well as an exposed wound (neat or jagged?), as well as a proffered pearl (freshly harvested?), as well as a judgement, as well as a gasp for air, as well as an incantation. You may, upon hearing them, feel as if you are being led into or out of a cage. You may feel as if you are being interrogated, or called up as an expert witness, or sat down in front of a puzzle box. You may feel as if a metal probe has been inserted into you, or a private item taken from your drawer and put on display. Once said, the words ‘I love you’ might linger briefly, or they might buzz about your head till you swat them away. They might vanish immediately, so that you doubt their being said, or they might leave a painful splinter in your ear. You may choose to seal them in a jar and keep that jar about you at all times, or else take it to your lab and study the words ‘I love you’ under a microscope, never learning if they’re living or dead. You might ride out to meet them with your own words in retinue, as welcome party or counterattack. You might even respond with the very same words, so that the two sets of triplets meet in the air and face each other down. You may feel you hear these words too often. On the other hand, you may feel sure you’ll never hear them again.

Katharine Peters-Cook (1887-1922) was a poet and former cabaret dancer from Boston, Massachusetts. She published several volumes of work, including The Reader Writes The Reader and See The Bells Fall. Her final collection, Here Lies The American, was assembled from drafts found in her apartment.

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