Elegy in Blank Verse – Michelle Lin

They call it wind-dried, chickens split alive

and gutted, upside down and stuffed with nuts.

My father tells me this and almost makes

me hang up, something distance gives me here

now I’m gone. Still I can’t escape the sight

of feathers being strung to rafters, thin

and hollow since their burst of birth, before

one thought to kill what they belonged to. And

since father’s father died, he’s hung each year

in windows, rooster pictures, warding off

his rabbit ghost. My father’s eaten all

the animals within the zodiac.

But rabbits are still beautiful, I think,

when dead, wide-eyed and glassy. Secretly

most people feel this way, those bodies soft

on strings, that hollow gnaw. I search within,

in envelopes the shade of marrow—this,

my grandpa’s heart, its traffic, scarlet, stopped.

Oh happy year of horses, happy birth

to me. He ribbons red my hair and hands

to glue with knives. He hangs me out to dry

and saves my feet for pockets—luck he’d kill

to take away. But this belongs to me

like birds, their feathers, ready, empty. Like

my mouth, so cotton-tailed beloved, soft

with wind, these flapping, slowing wings. Daddy

I’m sorry that your father died. I know.

We just can’t kill what is already gone.

Michelle Lin earned her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and her BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. She was a former Gluck Fellow and an editor of the journals Mosaic, B. E. Quarterly, and Hot Metal Bridge. She has taught poetry for the LEAPS summer program, Young Writer’s Institute, and University of Pittsburgh. Her latest work is forthcoming or can be found in The Journal, Powderkeg Magazine, TYPO, and North American Review. Visit her website at michellelinpoet.wordpress.com

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