Brian Eugenio Herrera and Brenna Crotty

Brian Eugenio Herrera

The Bird (Magazine Doodle)

response

 

Brenna Crotty

Bird

inspiration

 

Fortunately, by the time Grace gets to it, the carcass no longer resembles a turkey,
which is good, since her nephews have been running through the kitchen all day
with pictures of the anthropomorphized sort,
the kind with impossible beaky smiles and pilgrim hats.

Her almost-ex-husband Ben hovers over the bird with a knife
as though worried that a cut in the wrong place will spill out hot guts and bile
instead of meat, white and dark.

She holds the turkey steady for him, pressing down with her fingers,
the juices rising up through the skin like water through moss,
burning off her fingerprints.

“Sorry I asked you to do this,” she says,
since he’s never been comfortable at family events to begin with.
“But I didn’t want to tell them during the holidays. And my parents really like you.”
“Well,” he says, “That’s something.”

Ben starts to slice along the wing,
and the golden, blistered skin slides right off the bone,
leaving meat exposed, slick and glistening like a cold sore.
She takes the knife gingerly from him, with two fingers,
as though some jolt of electricity would floor them if their hands made contact.
He takes a step away, hands into pockets, muttering “Jesus.”

She has platters to fill of messy slices,
wedges of meat run through with gristle,
not the uniform white perfection of fast food nuggets,
but the steaming, organic insides of a recently-living creature.

She saws around the bone, clawing it apart into feathering slips
while he watches, silent,
until she asks about the new apartment
and he says that he let Tink out one night and she never came back
but good riddance anyway,
that cat was a bitch.

She wants to say, Don’t be stupid, you love that cat.
She wants to say, Aren’t you lonely without her?
But he is trying to hurt her, so she lets him.

Standing there in the silence of the kitchen,
with the family voices and the clink of dishes
and the shrill laughter brought on by wine just outside the door,
he is just a composite of useless information,
a subject she had gotten an Incomplete in.

Her life is not better knowing that he takes two pills a day,
one for cholesterol and one for the basketball injury.
How to tell him that now she wakes up in a muddle,
needing to call him,
to remind him,
because how could he remember to take them without her?

The turkey is spilling itself out across the platter,
full of mushy organs and coated meat.
She stares into the mess,
trying to determine what is good,
or at least what can be salvaged.

“I miss you,” he says
to his feet, which haven’t gone anywhere.
She takes the platters, one in each hand,
wrists cocked like a waitress,
and backs out the door, swivelling on her hinges.

At dinner they smile and touch fingers
and act like a husband and wife should.
They are picked to break the wishbone,
and when she feels it crack beneath her fingers,
she realizes she doesn’t know what it is
she is wishing for.

The next day, on a purge,
she goes for a run down the dirt road by her parents’ house.
The cold air is freezing her lungs rigid but she’s going to keep running
Until she can squeeze the smell,
like old chicken broth,
from her pores.

There, on the side of the road, is a bird,
dead, the white feathers of its belly askew.
It’s like that thing that they hit back and forth in badminton,
that makes a resounding thwock every time it’s struck
but really, when it’s just lying there,
is only feathers and air.

The word for it comes to her suddenly, a tangle of coincidence.
Birdie. Go figure.

She stares at the tiny little body,
still and cold and stiff
and she wonders what it was inside there,
amongst the hidden muscles and ligaments,
the pulleys and ropes and wires,
that ever ever ever
made it capable of flight.

 

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4 Comments

  1. terahvandusen
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm | #

    That’s a really unique piece of art–I like it!

  2. Lisa Kilhefner
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm | #

    I am immensely moved by both inspiration and reponse. Just gorgeous works. Kudos!

  3. Liz.Steinglass
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 10:36 am | #

    Beautiful. Both of them. What an incredible question at the end of the writing.

  4. Amanda
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 6:26 am | #

    Both of these pieces are incredible…Brenna, this piece really moved me. Thank you!

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