They Leave Nothing for the Morning

torrin a. greathouse

         Zephaniah 3:3

i watch from the fence’s perimeter,

          two coyotes circling

as they make of their hungers

          a wicked game, a slow dance

of devouring. between them a bantam hen,

          soft blurt of fear, copper coin

slurring into a planet between four open palms.

          the bird litters a panic

of its blood, ruby crumbs darkening the ground.

          i stand there quiet & do not stop their game.

i am nine & do not yet know this feeling.

          to become a thing of play

& then a meal. but i will learn. a woman

          will howl into me

like the deafness of a bell. i will mistake her

          for a teacher. will awaken

to my skin now currency, sex

          like the barter of a body.

my lips, the tender veins of my neck,

          the delicacy of my tongue,

passed between teeth, from mouth

          to mouth, how i am taught

to find value in the making of my body

          a meal, in my devouring,

boy broken as bread, or a wishbone’s sharp division.

          then, i was innocent as an animal,

unmarked as fresh lain egg. come morning,

          i hose the red away, pluck

feathers like small blooms from the frost

          -choked dirt. think of the hen,

how it could not have foreseen its own opening,

          its becoming a stain, washed away.

how it first entered into the world, drenched,

          body sticky & golden with light.


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