The Death of Ginny
Between the coop and the fence, she caught—
the speckled hen I knew by name.
Rank bitterness, that morning when
I found her claws were tangled,
that motes of earth already settled
on her dying body.
By the weight of my face, I knew the dust.
I knew the rust in her craw, yawning
with the hinges of her voice:
let me die in modesty. Of hands which
warmed me into life I ask only to be
spared the violence of your sympathy.
I brushed her with a hand, afraid
of what she felt. The stink of passing life
was incense. And my plea was O Christ,
who broke the bands of death, break
these that are setting me afire in
the soreness of my loyalty.
Her breath came hard. Her breast found nails
in wire and board. She took my gaze
with yellow eyes. Bury me, she said
that wild things may not see and rip
the hackle of my thighs, or batter down
the gates to paradise.
I took the shovel in my hand.
I knew my rawness then—
the nightmares that hypothesized
of burying seas, that I could make
an end of what might drown
and never rise.
But she was too broken for an act
of mercy, and waited for my dread to ease.
Her neck thrummed while my breath
curled feathers on her breast. My hand
shook, drew back the wire,
and gave her her release.
Sarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. Her first novel, Lightning Tree, was published in April.