a poem


Hold the bird in the left hand, and commence
to pull off the feathers from under the wing.
Having plucked one side, take the other wing
and proceed in the same manner, until all the feathers
are removed.
- Mrs Beeton’s Household Management

I raise Paisley wounds,
spill yellow pollen of fat.
This is reversing time, like a vandal

who scores shellac blooms
from a soundbox, tightening to snapping
the strings of a lute.

As if I scraped a poem’s lard
from vellum. As brattish
as kicking a cat.

In pale skin are magnolia buds:
the muscles that worked wings,
but I’ve undone the wings,

gripping each pinion
as if to slide home the marriage ring
and never dream of flying again;

I’ve plucked the eyed, seed feathers,
the chicky down, the fine human hair
like first casing of mushroom spawn,

the long quills that striped across
the evening sun this week,
trembling in the rainstorm’s target.
© 2005, Jen Hadfield
From: Almanacs
Publisher: Bloodaxe, 2005