You talk aloud to the rare bones and meat
on your plate, quoting Blake:
“Little Lamb who made thee,
Dost thou know who made thee.”
No question marks the poet’s version.
And you aren’t asking either.
It is done.
Heavy with impossible answers,
you slide the knife blade into flesh.
The only rhetoric is violence.
This sacrifice will nourish you,
as you know
you are meant to nourish
everything around you in return.
A little guilt goes down like salt,
inside a prayer or out,
a meager nod to blood and gore
acknowledging that you are likewise
only passing through.
One tender bite, you taste the suffering to come,
staved off once more like hunger
in an amnesty of crystal candlelight,
the luxurious tablecloth white as wool.
Your instinct is to bleat.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Susan O’Dell Underwood. All rights reserved. Susan O’Dell Underwood directs the creative-writing major at Carson-Newman University. In addition to The Book of Awe, she has published two chapbooks, and her work has appeared in the Oxford American and Crab Orchard Review, among other publications. She lives in Jefferson City.