Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Carcass Balance

The disgusting package of the phrase
designed to conceal and amuse,

reeks of the macabre that falls
in a hole as deep as any kind of love

we know. How do we imagine
boats and trucks of dark fowl parts

lining up to travel east without
the sneak of our own grief?

How begin to recognize human beings
so happy and fat on leavings

they decide to adore and then
to prefer them. And how consider

the days it takes for the unwanted
parts, already old like the ones they feed,

to reach a shelf. The alternatives
come from further afield, washed

in chlorine, clean, but even older
than the dark rags of belly and leg

from bones so small they recall
a child’s. And it’s not lost on me

that my son prefers the dark,
refuses to touch the pale breast

when I bring the bird whole in a paper
cage, fill the house with its sear

and whichever spice was left on the warm
rack. There’s always something dim

and gray about tearing apart a bird
with your child looking up, grease

on his downy chin, fat under my nails,
the heap of shred neither of us will touch,

even after I’ve delivered it so patiently
from bone and string, peeled back the pocked

skin, and laid the white slices across
a bed of greens. Once I loved a man

who worked a poultry farm no more
than a single summer, but ever after

shunned the meat. He’d roast and eat
the tail or snout of any other beast,

but these with only two feet, wings,
and so much airborne fluff

were the nightmare in which
we’re all completely sure we’ll end,

not with the warm surprise
of a viscous pool of blood, but the holy

terror of all our air sucked by a storm
of plucked and swirling wings.  

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