Animals

by Kim Sousa

To make a life, my father slept in hammocks in the park. For work, he cut
hunks of meat from a hanging carcass down to size. Always smaller, more precise.

Point to any part of the animal and my father can tell you its purpose. Its taste.
In Brazil, I remember boiling whole chickens, how feathers pull freely from still-hot flesh.

How to lay hunger bare: first, wring or slit a neck. Hold the pig’s hind legs while your
father castrates the thing. When it grows to size, marvel at how clean a belly opens.

Later, we make soap from its warm wet squeals. We save its feet for the beans.
Its skin crackles in its own amber fat—still my favorite snack.

My hands haven’t known animal blood on this side of the equator.
For this, I need to apologize. I hear it in my father’s Texas backyard as the rooster

begins to crow into its sex. There is a stew pot waiting for its flesh.
After a while, we will break open its bones for their marrow. I will use my own capable hands.

Hands with my father’s knotted knuckles. Our bones the same under my shame-white skin.
After a while, we will be full of animal. Its surprise cries for the sun.

We won’t speak. There is a use and understanding in this.
There is thanks. A final sacrifice—less bloody than we expected, but bloody, still.

Kim Sousa is a poet and open border radical currently living in Pittsburgh with two senior pugs. She was born in Goiânia, Goiás (Brazil) and raised in Austin, Texas. Her work can be found in Poet Lore, Rogue Agent, Apogee, Blunderbuss and elsewhere.

Artwork by: Priscilla Du Preez