From out of snowy woods,
bearded men struggle in heavy coats and boots,
drag dead rabbits by the ears,
creatures caught in snares, gray fur fluttering,
stomachs pure white but for the trickle
of red down the throat.
In the parlor, mothers, grandmothers,
sew themselves into their own comfort,
while restless children rush about,
reliving summer, tulips, snapdragons,
long grass, inviting forest,
and rabbits hopping madly across the fields,
their fear disguised as perfect symmetry.
Trappers trudge up paths,
icy-haired and stubbly red,
weary but satisfied at a good day's work,
meat for the pot, skins for the market,
clamber through the open front door.
"The stove, Aneka," one says.
"Light the stove."
House is all dank leather and hacking coughs,
dead smells and fire burning.
Stew is on the menu. It is the menu.
One beast sliced and emptied,
the others caged in ice.
Children press backs to the kitchen wall.
watch the operation with disgust.
The fleet of paw in July
is now bubbling in a mid-winter pot.
Children sit up at the table,
eagerly await the meal.
There's none more hungry
than those that hate the sight of blood.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Main Street Rag and Spoon River Poetry Review.