by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Ellen Bryant Voigt

Thanksgiving Day was the day they slaughtered the hog the carcass

hoisted by its heels from the oak the planks across sawhorses holding

the hams the buckets catching the blood the shanks the organ meats

the chunks of white fat for biscuits the feet sunk in brine as the yard-dogs

whined for the leathery ear and my grandmother napped

with the baby always a baby needing a nap

my neighbor

at ninety-six claims she’s never had a nap she has no use for dogs

she used to spend Thanksgiving in the woods getting her deer

and strung it up outside the shed where now droops

head down rack down her son’s deer her knives

stay sharp one year her son brought by

not venison a yearling bear glossy and black

dressed out there wasn’t much underneath his thick coat

a scrawny frame the paws so much like hands she said

when she looked through the window it startled her

hanging there the size of a child

Ellen Bryant Voigt's picture

Ellen Bryant Voigt is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Headwaters: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 (W. W. Norton, 2007); Shadow of Heaven (W. W. Norton, 2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Kyrie (W. W. Norton, 1995), a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award; Two Trees (W. W. Norton, 1992); The Lotus Flowers (W. W. Norton, 1987); The Forces of Plenty (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1983); and Claiming Kin (Wesleyan University Press, 1976).

Last updated December 24, 2014