Plucking / Bryn Homuth

Tufts of feather tugged
in quick, page-turn twists
tail to neck, patterned
and iridescent,
readying ducks for roasting.

My son stands at my side,
watches the plumage
disappear into a trash can
and by its removal the emerging
contours of breastbone, leg, and thigh,
coiled skin around the neck,
tendons and joints fit together for flight,
now food.

I tell him why we save
the wingtips and feet, how they will
fortify a stock or simmer
to glace de viande.
I show him where I’ll score
the skin in diagonal cuts
to release rendering fat,
trace for him the prized oval
off the backbone: the oyster.

He runs off when, with tweezer,
I extract the pin feathers, remembering
the young drake just coming into color
that had been my first, the lesson
in the scrutiny required
to clean and steward
what I’d killed.
Then from my periphery
running in again to inspect my work, he raises
in triumph, inches from my face, dangling
from an outstretched hand, a lifeless

I jump, shout, take his hands to wash
at the well. With instinct alone
he had gone in search of game,
to share in the hunt, to join with me
in that sacred preparation
of animal for table.

Spigot water runs clear
after the scrubbing.
Like this trickle into autumn dew,
there are things we think
we should not grasp, but instead
we have just forgotten
how to hold them.

This poem is excepted from Bryn Homuth’s Chasing the Burr from Darkly Bright Press.

Plucking: Copyright 2023 by Bryn Homuth. All rights reserved.

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