Saturday, July 22, 2006

what we have done

a found poem

my mother has started cutting necks
my grandmother kneels beside her

between them is a pile of chicken heads

wall-eyed, astonished
the stunned crop of white feathers
against the pink wavy flesh
of fading combs

my oldest sister
snar[es] chickens
with a long wire legcatcher

[she] is god today

my second-oldest sister
retriev[es] chickens
from the headless places they have flown to

vivid sprays [of] blood

rising in fountains on the white stucco walls
bucking up against the trunks of cottonwoods
soak[ing] patches in the grass

the red-iron smell
strewn across the dewy green lawn

my grandmother
holds her hand around the chicken’s neck
tilting it like a wine bottle
she means to pour down to nothing

the water is boiling in tubs
the feathers come off in clumps

the smell is complex
water meets wool meets vinegar meets dirt
like wet fur, like bad feet

“Mmm, girls, just think,” she says: “fresh chicken.”

we walk the red wheelbarrow
to the dump ground
to bury the parts
metallic tinge of blood
still in my mouth

(do I have to?)

I must.

I must learn to know the taste
of what my hands have done

on my tongue

Thanks and apologies to Debra Marquary, who wrote the original really lovely piece (chock full of blood and manure) «Chores: An endless stream of tasks to keep you from having fun», just published in the July | August 2006 edition of Orion.

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