Clare Rossini

The Albino Squirrel
January 12, 2015 Rossini Clare

The Albino Squirrel

 

Bury it, I said.  In the field.  No,

Said Steve.  We’ll put a rock on top, I said.  No. 

 

Steve lifted the squirrel from the street, walked stiffly through

The kitchen door and down the basement stairs

 

As I spread newspaper on the laundry table

Hard lit by a humming fluorescent.  And I stood

 

At my brother’s side as he took his penknife out and slit the belly

Beneath the keel of the breastbone,

 

Through the pale mutant fur

Matted and pebbled from the street.  His hands opened the soft paunch,

 

And together we stared

Into the riddling glitter.   I closed

 

My eyes.   Say when you’re done.

The sounds of slop, Steve’s grunts, and once,

 

A low whistle.  Steve said Look

And I blinked open,

 

The table spread with heaps of innards seeping into the news.  Look

He said, insistent this time.    And the knife

 

Nosed a small slab of lung, still pink,

As if harboring a spot of wind in it.

 

Lifted an intestine’s gleaming ravel.  Then took on its tip the plum-

Prize of the heart, bruise-dark,

 

Startled out of its music.

Oh, I said, looking at my brother, and he at me, the fluorescent light

 

Floating in his glasses, two lozenge-shaped fires.  The squirrel’s

Empty pouch to one side,

 

Its small pale head

Turned tiredly away.

Clare Rossini’s third collection, Lingowas published by University of Akron Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in such venues as The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review,  Ploughshares, Poetry, and the Best American Poetry series.  The Poetry of Capital, an anthology Rossini is co-editing, will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2019. She currently serves as Artist-in-Residence at Trinity College.