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Read more poems by Jared Carter: Jared Carter Poems at Poetry X.

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The Clapping

Jared Carter

There is a grace in the way people do things, even the simplest tasks—
the dance with which their fingers encircle the chicken's gaze, coaxing
the edges of its eyes into paleness, their calling upon it to rest now,
their speaking in a way that acknowledges something common to both of them—
reassuring it like a mother, smoothing down the ruffled neck-feathers,
lightly stroking with their fingertips the comb's red membrane,
knowing as they touch that it is like other erect, familiar flesh— 

Yet continuing to speak softly, as though enchanted by their own syllables,
patiently explaining while leaning closer to the top of the upturned log,
the bitten rings in the wood, the ax-handle carefully positioned—
comforting it, promising that everything is going to be all right,
whispering to it as though it loved sentences, as though it knew words,
for in this way we ward off thoughts of bedtime stories that end in darkness,
of lullabies heard so long ago nothing remains now, only their silence—

Least of all do we allow ourselves a glimpse of that image seconds away—
the chicken's body searching through the grass but unable to remember why—
and this not knowing is a part of the grace of doing what must be done,
even the most difficult task: not to remember what it was like before,
not to expect forgiveness after, not to want more than what you have
at this moment: which is a live creature looming like a bell in your hands
and your own voice hushed to cry out at the inevitable ringing. 

Added: 20 May 2003 | Last Read: 4 Mar 2021 7:44 PM | Viewed: 6497 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/9098/ | Viewed on 4 March 2021.
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