Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Skinning

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Skinning

Article excerpt

SKINNING

How many times did I hold them up for him

and watch how easily something that had lived

comes apart? In each hand I clutched

an unlucky foot and splayed them, belly-side

to him, and he'd pinch the fur at the crotch

and with the knifepoint separate the fur

from the muscle and fat underneath. He'd cut

all the way around until it seemed the rabbit's

long shirt had ridden up and then with one tug

he'd pull the fur down the body and over the head

the same way you'd tug the pajamas off a child.

From being plush, they suddenly looked frail, naked,

even old though most had known only two autumns.

Then with three or four quick flicks of the knife

he took the head and always the little headless nude

swung back and struck me in the chest.

Carefully, so as not to nick a gut, he slid the knife

under the belly skin and opened the little body. …

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