You have to hit it on the head with a hammer,
good and hard between the ears. You will think
of hunger, as its tongue preens its wet nose
and its legs buck air and its eyes roll back
into its skull. You have to think of killing
as a kind of weather: you make the fewest incisions
and bleed the body, slipping your hand
into the chest cavity so the innards come free
and the whole skin can be peeled off.
You’ll want to make use of the lean shell
and ignore the gut pile. You won’t mind black flies
buzzing over your work; you are used to critics.
You will want heaven and hell, celestial certainties
that the soul may travel into mercy.
You will think a long time about how the creature
does not cry out.
You will bring the knife into your sleep.
You will hear the cries in your dreaming. You will think
about the tenderness of the killer: hands excavating the cavity,
holding open the animal so our eyes can get in.
Art by Evie Lovett
Amber Flora Thomas is the author of EYE OF WATER: POEMS (Pitt Poetry Series, 2005), and her poems have appeared in Callao, Orion Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among other publications.
Amber Flora Thomas