TWO POEMS by MARTHA LUNDIN
Deboning Chicken Breasts
On Sunday morning my index finger slips
between flesh and bone. The knife sits beside
me, slick and shining under the fluorescent lights.
Small bones prick at my prying fingers
as I ease the pink away from tendons
and clotted blood. The breast butterflies
in front of me: perfect halves of hard ribcage
and soft meat. I learned the importance of feeling
where the meat wants to come off the bone
from my father on the banks of a river,
pulling lungs from the belly of a trout.
It is not a clean thing, the way
the breast tears away from its cage. It is
a rasping whisper back to the plastic cutting
board. The knife, only at the end, sighs
through the extra tissue: a tidying of scraps.
My father brought me
to the banks of the Escanaba
and told me to mirror his movements.
I stuck a knife in the belly of a brook trout,
followed a straight line to base of throat,
listened as the air popped from its mouth,
and did not rinse the blade before
I threw it in the grass and spread the chest
I pinched the heart, and lungs, and gut;
winced as my fingers slipped
trying to pull them out. I tossed them
into the river and watched them float
I did not look at the eyes,
bright and clear as the river.
As I ran my thumb on the length of inner spine
I counted the vertebrae,
felt for the tiny ridges of ribs.
My fingers buried themselves under the cheek,
hooked around red lace gills.
I hesitated when I heard them ripping.
The eyes are not white yet
the way they will be when my father
lights the fire and lays the bodies
on blackened grates. The flames
will lick the color right out of them.
Martha Lundin completed their MFA in nonfiction at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. They now currently live in Minnesota with their cat.