Many Bird Roast by Rachael Allen

I came in, dandy and present
arguing for a moratorium on meat
of the kind splayed out on the table, legs akimbo
like a fallen-over ice skater skidding on her backside
there are dogs in the outhouse and all over the world
that we do not eat
and one small sparrow in a pigeon in a grouse in a swan
that we will certainly eat
overlooking all the drama, with as many eyes as a spider
that we’ll cut in two
and the compacted layers of the various meats
will fall away dreamily as a rainbow melts down
into the marsh where it came from
slipping meat from the bone
onto a specially designed knife
there’s a call out for plates
I’m the only one with a sense of outcry
someone says, you weren’t like this when it was broiling away
smelling like your history, smelling like
the deep skin on your knee grazed after playing in the sun all day
skinned with good dirt and your under-blood just showing through
smelling like warm dry firs after burning and the outdoors
after fireworks and Novembers after tea
you eat and smell like the rest of us, dirty rat under your armpit
dirty bird in your stomach
and birds fell down through the chimney with thwacks into buckets
and we got so poor we had to eat them too
strange cockatoos and once a brilliantly lit pure white dove
that we kept in a hutch with a small pot of ink
and when we let it out
it wasn’t so much a raven as just a plain black dove
ready to cook, and with superstition, I learnt to.