Do not insult the division between predator & prey.
I am not like the others.
No bird, no ghost, I am bodied & wingless.
I wring wild turkeys limp in my jaw & open them still-feathered.
Farmers go bent & sallow at finding their hen houses bare.
Sparrows are sugar pills beneath the tongue
just as specters are, sweet little bites.
Ghost is not a name, it is a meal.
Call me ghost again and I’ll set the match
of my body to your rafters.
This morning I woke in you, surrounded
by bones. Not your bones, nor those of your feed,
but little parcels coughed up by the great horned owl. Remnants
of field mice: spine, hip, & fibula. Jaw, toothed open
like a doll’s comb. A fine gift. Fit for a silversmith
or a bead merchant. I fill a pail & dissect them beneath the spigot,
then match like with like. Vertebrates, columned here. Claws
there. Skulls set aside in the sunlight dapple at the tabletop’s crest,
for they are surely the most beautiful of all, like plums’
pits sucked clean of fruit. Were I swallowed by a wingéd titan,
find the pellet & peel out my tail. I don’t care what you use it for.
A necklace or a horsewhip, a mobile or a chain—
whatever you need.
There’s a superstition amongst truckers
further west—every nail that spoils
a tire, they keep. Treasure
into ashtrays & coin cans.
Five: they come into luck. Ten: money.
Twenty nails & a hauler can leave
the wheel. Never has to drain another
gas tank. Finds a woman. Inherits land
in a slow town where the streets
are too narrow for cargo.
They say one man got to nineteen
& drove off a bridge. Saw that glint
of metal on the interstate below
& reached for it. The storytellers
speak his name brazenly, like a bet,
like a winning horse. They tell his legend
as if any of them would have done the same.
GennaRose Nethercott is a poet, performer, and folklorist from the woodlands of Vermont. Her recent work has appeared in The Offing, Rust & Moth, Cleaver, and Hermeneutic Chaos, among others. She was named the grand prize winner of Spark Creative Anthology’s poetry competition and the Lindenwood Review’s flash fiction contest. She writes poems-to-order for passersby on a 1952 Hermes Rocket typewriter, a collection of which was released by Honeybee Press in 2015.