Jointing a rabbit
The colour of a newborn in the flush
of its first lungful, the corpse spread-eagled
headless on this chopping board lies helpless
under my knife. I prise liver and kidneys
from the ribbed wall they cling to, reach
into the chest for the lights.
Each time I wonder how the small lungs,
whose strawberry and white look so anaemic
beside the rest, held air enough
to power this athlete of the grasslands.
As I press down the spine with the flat of my hand
the yielding flesh turns meat.
My care, a clean cut which snaps the bone
without a splinter, my reward
the neat alignment of hindquarters, forepaws,
splayed like the two halves of a Rorschach test
each end of the torso. No fish-head eyes
to disconcert with their accusing stare.
Had I been there when this buck, ferreted,
sprang for cover into the trapping net
its flank heaving, seen the taut flesh sag
at a blow to the neck, the light go out of it,
could I so coolly toss the broken body
in seasoned flour, sear it in hot oil?
Jointing a rabbit by A.C. Clarke won First Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2018) judged by Roger Elkin