I treaded carefully in the snow.
The target struggled, its limbs branching
wildly before it abandoned
any hope of freedom. The salty
language that escaped its mouth made me certain
it would never speak again. Dragging my trophy, I headed toward the road.

The hunting-season climate emptied the roads,
and my animal is innocent, unguarded as the snow.
I loom behind them, remarkably tempted. They never move. I am certain
I have perfected the art in the undervalued quiet. Bare branches
conceal my shadow with theirs as I creep, eager for the assault.
My façade is abandoned.

It laid in my car unrestrained and drugged, abandoning
its fear. The meat goes bad when they die scared, alone on the road.
Three, seven, ten minutes of resistance and the bitter salt
would transform the meat into something inedible. Heavier snowfall
makes me drive slower. Makes my hunger thick, branching
throughout my body. The party tonight will be divine, certainly.

I pluck, rip, twist the ocher skin in the certain
way that will ensure most of this creature will not go abandoned
in the trash. It’s a savage pleasure branching
into a civil skill that I have refined in the kitchen. It erodes
even the most vile aspects of the task. The grinded meat I cup like a snowball,
and when the oven beeps, I taste, then add some salt.

The broth is golden, with flecks of green parsley and salted
with cubes of white chicken breasts. Matzo ball soup is certainly
a suitable appetizer for tonight’s company. Snow
white spheres bob along the surface of the soup and I abandon
my apron for more suitable attire. Outside of my house, the roads
light up under headlights. The tenderloin with marrow sauce decorated like branches.

Rid yourself of the Soylent Green notion and enjoy. The branch
of a family tree trimmed for the meal; lamb saltimbocca with marsala sauce; salt
to taste. My table is set and the first course is a success. All roads
to hell must lead here certainly,
their innocence abandoned
out there in the snow.

I implore my guests to branch out, even if they may not be certain what
They are putting in their salted mouths, abandoning their instinct.
I enjoy the hunting season on my back roads covered with snow.

My kitchen is always open to friends.



This poem followed the Sestina form, with the words “snow”, “branch”, “abandon”, “salt”, “certain”, and “road”.
This was originally published in 2015, in The Burg.

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