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.