Featured in Colorado Review
Published Spring 2014
How the blade was not sharp enough.
How a duck’s neck is supple as a thick piece of rope.
How we squatted close to the damp dirt, nighttime
welling around our ankles. The old men
drunk by the gate had gone to their slanting houses;
no one was on the streets. We had a knife at least,
the kind you plunge into soil for cutting roots, blade
sharpened on both sides, but old, really. How I held her
wings bound against her struggle, my fingertips touching
on her breastbone. I had killed other animals
before, and once a broken-winged songbird
died of fright in my hands, but it is easy
to forget how something goes boneless
from fear. How the smell of shit rose from her warm body
after. Together we carried her in a burlap sack
through the dark streets, and blood bloomed
on the fabric between us and on the street.
She was a talisman through clusters of men,
only boys but larger, conducting transactions
not quietly, and no one spoke to us or met our eyes.
How, even once we plucked her clean and, safe,
someone set a pot to boil, traces of her smell
clung to our hands like strands of fog.
……………………How my pulse ran in my fingers
like the heartbeat of another thing.
Miriam Bird Greenberg has held fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Poetry Foundation, and the NEA. “Killing” appears in the chapbook All night in the new country, published by Sixteen Rivers Press. She writes and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.