What looks like something alive without skin becomes meat for the fry pan, the meal for today. The only knife they haven’t found is a good size for the carcass, this one a spring hare. Not fat enough. First the pectorals, flapped open like my Oskar’s vest the night they marched him into the forest. Sternum cracked, yanked out, ribs attached, lifted into the cast iron pot, laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow. Legs severed at the hip joint, slid into the last of the milk to soak.
What’s left is a narrow boat of flesh where heart and stomach and sweetmeats cool. Boiled, they’ll give strength, but entrails and lungs make a soup bitter. They could go to the hound if he hadn’t run off or been butchered for food, so into the bucket, chum for bait-fish. They can’t stop the river or the perch in its weeds.
Braised in a bit of lard, milk-sweetened haunches and breast meat, forelegs with their thread of marrow. As for the spine, we’ll suck meat from its bones. Sundown, tuck the children in. Bury the pot in the food hole, scatter the feet. Dim the lamp, hide the oil. They took the chickens, eggs, the cow, the pretty girls, the men. By day, the Germans. By night, the Partisans.
J. C. Todd
J. C. Todd’s books are FUBAR, an artist book collaboration (Lucia Press), What Space This Body (Wind Publications), and two chapbooks. Poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and most recently in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Thrush, and Valparaiso Review. Winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, she has received fellowships and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Arts Council, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Pew, UCross, Ragdale and Leeway foundations.
The Ekphrastic Review
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