Erin Slaughter is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of two poetry chapbooks: GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018) and Elegy for the Body(Slash Pine Press, 2017). You can find her writing in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, F(r)iction, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019.
Self-Portrait as Chicken Dinner
She is a flocked hen going further
west. Like a rucksack slung
over the shoulder in an old
movie, what she contains is less
important than the visual.
When did she become afraid
of her own foolish cluck and scrape
away from the claw-footed earth?
For home is not a blank thing
that wanders. For shelter
is a wooden stake
through the heart.
And always that dead
ghost glazes her skin, thin
film ruddying feathers.
She names it love and gives up
on soap or articulating hurt.
Catalog her contents, blueprint for slicing
open: the cute, crumpled gizzard.
The menagerie of howls caged up
in her heart. When she is hollowed
like the animal ribs of a hundred
it’s the handles that pierce
corn from either side to keep it
in place. All we cannot bear
to notice as the cob collapses
shucks and lifts its yellow,
brittle prayer to a hall of teething
mirrors. To a hallway of mirroring teeth.