Mary Herrington-Perry: Rediscovering the Natural World

By the time she'd lugged the body into the woods,
the sun was up. She back-tracked the trail
to the edge of the field, curving blackberry canes
back into the thicket, switching the soft dirt smooth
with a holly bough. It took her a moment to identify
the clipped flight of the kestrel. Talons drawn,
the bird skimmed the beans above a quaking vole.
Her breast was the fallen sun.

She left the body in a patch of ivy,
naked among venomous pearls.
Gnats waded in the pools of its eyes,
and for old time's sake, she shooed them away.
Even now the brow was taut, studying
the sere stretch of its former habitation.
Nothing there taught it to know that in the distance,
an elk winded the conch shell of its lust.

She raised the axe and cleaved the body
from throat to pelvic bone.
Parting the broken ribs like the pages of a book,
she opened the cavity to the natural world.

She anticipated horse flies, ravens, buzzards,
foxes in the first blush of their blood coats.
Wild dogs would quarter the carcass
to dream over in their winter dens. In April,
mushroom hunters would find fascicles of human hair
in the trees at the flood line. Come July, a femur
would appear on the dirt floor of a farmer's toolshed.
He'd toss it in the corner with the other bones
and, once the harvest was in, grind them to meal
for the narcissus bed.