짐승 가공하기 (Curing the animal)

22 May 2011

My husband hands me the animal.

A soft neck roll and a dead eye,

a lustreless fur that I must touch

to strip and salt and peg to dry.

He is away all the day in the dust.

a eucalypt oil smell taints his neck

he comes to me

bones meeting mine

a hard fit

a green lawn at the edge of a desert

my heart, inexact

There is a sharp knife in the house.

I gather the wattle bark and boil it in a drum,

leave the skin to reek and call flies to it.

weeks pass, his eyes squint with distance,

monosyllables doled out, hard shillings

minted rare from his mouth, whiskers on his chin

scratch my skin. I pretend. Sleep.

Pulling one parsnip each, one leek.

The hard-fought cream, the butter’s luxury.

The wallaby seasons its last useful night,

salt and pepper crusts its meat, the oil rolling

like mist off a morning.

Brown and sere of fat, it rests.

The marjoram rubs its scent on me.

The leek becomes soft, the parsnip tender

under butter. The meat drowns in gravy.

He chews ’til all the flesh is gone.

I pull the reddish hide from the reeking drum,

tip water to thirsty ground,

watch it drain.

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