The Butcher's Daughter

It is the blood I remember,
not of the living or the dead
but of the ones who wait in the freezer
like old men grown tired of their skin.
My father removes their coats
and they stand whole, perfect.
All that is heavy falls to me.
I hold the bucket balanced on a knee.
A knee made bone, the same bone
which cries under my father's knife.

Heart, liver, four stomachs from a cow.
I carry and dump in the barrel
held for the dogs who are hungry,
who come in the night with women,
scarves pulled over their heads.
Ones who rummage and beg but do not speak.
It is all here. What I carry.
All that I need to piece together a great beast.
One perfect, drained of all that stains
my father red and I can ride her,
my creation, to a place
where little girls lie in their own sheets,
clean and unafraid.

2002 T.E. Ballard.  All rights reserved. 


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