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June 30, 2015 Poetry

deaths in the family

Giancarlo Paradiso

deaths in the family photo

1
the cat caught a bird this morning
I saw her clamor up the fence

I saw the feathers stuck with blood to her mouth
I saw her toss the corpse about

bird bones are hollow
purpose-built for flight

so when the skeleton is trapped it doesn’t matter
how easily they break

I shouted out, happy for her, she, the hunter
who can alter a state of existence the way I cannot

I heard the crunch of hollow bones, the beak
he ate it whole

she will not eat the corpse-bird, her, the hunter
the other cat, the male, does the eating

the fact that gender binaries exist in other species
made me feel helpless this morning

it’s not that she wasn’t hungry
I have seen the way she eats

2
the wolves got two sheep last night
the raptors are picking at the carrion

we can’t find the other one

the rest of the herd are keeping their distance
they’re taking their distance seriously

nobody is eating

if I come home melancholic
please don’t take it personally

I don’t know what “voluntary exile from planet earth” means

but I wrote it down yesterday
on a piece of receipt paper

I think my problem is

ever since I realized
that the order of the universe is capricious

I no longer know what “planet earth” means

3
a man came today
to slaughter a bull

he shot it in the back of the head
and hung it from a branch

the earth was eager for the blood
it disappeared quickly

the calves and heifers gathered
nonchalant in their audience

but the next morning
they wouldn’t eat

the youngest moved slow
suggesting sorrow of some sort

so we chased her around the farm
which is what the man told us to do

and after chasing her for a few days
laughing as I ran, I realized

watching the blood drain was the moment she knew
that she didn’t have it figured out

her idyll life turned over, hung upside down
that dirt drinking up the drips of pure death

that crazed human running
I do not know any better than her

image: Giancarlo Paradiso


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